Thick, black smoke from an intense fire twisting high into the overcast sky above I-75 in Cobb County. More than a dozen cars and tractor-trailers left mangled on the crowded, wet interstate. Massive traffic delays for hours and congestion for miles and miles.

Such was the grim scene for drivers and first responders in Marietta on Thursday after a deadly chain-reaction crash.

One person was killed when the mass of vehicles collided in the northbound lanes amid a heavy rainstorm, Cobb police confirmed. Boniface Ndiangui, 58, of Marietta, was behind the wheel of a Freightliner hauling a semi-trailer, according to Channel 2 Action News.

Only one other person was taken to a hospital, the news station reported.

The heavily traveled thoroughfare, which was left charred by the flames, was closed for more than seven hours for cleanup and the investigation. It finally reopened about 6:45 p.m.

According to the Georgia Department of Transportation, nine cars and seven tractor-trailers were involved in the fatal incident, which happened about 11:15 a.m. near Chastain Road.

Footage from GDOT cameras in the area showed multiple firetrucks blocking the interstate as smoke rose from a big rig. Video footage showed at least two crumpled cars and a tractor-trailer being consumed by flames.

The crash happened as downpours in metro Atlanta caused nearly white-out conditions on the interstate.

“You could only see about 40 yards in front of you,” Chris Hill, a truck driver who saw the crash, told Channel 2. “The truck to my right got rear-ended, broke the axles, destroyed it. Luckily, I didn’t get tangled up in that.”

All lanes of I-75 in Cobb County had to be shut down after a fiery crash involving 16 vehicles near Chastain Road.

Credit: Daniel Varnado

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Credit: Daniel Varnado

Hill said a white box van caught on fire, and the flames spread to another vehicle and an 18-wheeler.

A second driver, Billy Jay, told the news station that a tractor-trailer jackknifed about 100 feet ahead of him. He crashed into another car while trying to avoid it, he said.

“It pushed us over into a tractor-trailer and a guy hit us from behind and the fire started,” Jay said. “It was chaos.”

Police initially shut down all northbound lanes of I-75 before eventually closing the interstate in both directions. Shortly before 1:30 p.m., police said the interstate would likely be shut down for at least six more hours while authorities worked to clear the scene.

Drivers were urged to avoid the area and use alternate routes.