A tractor trailer crashed at an Interstate 40 overpass in North Little Rock and caught fire, killing the driver and snarling traffic in the area for hours.
The 18-wheeler hauling rolls of plastic crashed about 12:30 p.m. Thursday at the Young Road overpass just east of the Crystal Hill exit.
The interstate was shut down in both directions for more than an hour and remained closed to westbound traffic while crews cleared debris from the road and assessed the damage to the overpass. The overpass will remain closed until further notice, officials said.
The westbound lanes are expected to remain closed through the busy rush-hour period. The Arkansas Highway and Transportation Department said officials hoped to make repairs and get westbound traffic moving again "sometime overnight."
Westbound traffic was being diverted off I-40 at the Burns Park exit, creating a miles-long backup that extended beyond the Interstate 30 interchange. Two eastbound lanes reopened in the area shortly after 2 p.m.
The trailer was a ball of fire when firefighters arrived. Crews from several departments ultimately contained and extinguished the blaze using a special foam spray, but by then the truck had been mostly reduced to charred wreckage strewn across the westbound lanes.
The driver, whose name was not known, was helped from the wreckage by other motorists before he was taken from the scene by helicopter to an area hospital, where he was later pronounced dead, Pulaski County Coroner Gerone Hobbs said.
North Little Rock Fire Department Battalion Chief Phil Pounders said there were no other known injuries in the single-vehicle accident. The driver suffered apparent burns to "100 percent of his body," Pounders said.
North Little Rock Police in an alert suggested that those traveling west on I-40 find alternate routes at either the Burns Park or Highway 107 exits.
Read Friday's Arkansas Democrat-Gazette for more details.