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Fatal semi wreck blocks I-40 west, snarls traffic through rush hour

By ArkansasOnline

This article was originally published March 7, 2013 at 12:51 p.m. Updated March 7, 2013 at 5:24 p.m.

firefighters-work-to-extinguish-a-tractor-trailer-consumed-by-fire-in-a-wreck-that-shut-down-i-40-thursday

Firefighters work to extinguish a tractor-trailer consumed by fire in a wreck that shut down I-40 Thursday.

Truck fire snarls I-40 traffic

A truck hit an overpass and caught fire, snarling traffic on Interstate 40 Thursday. (By Gavin Lesnick)
[View Full-Size]

Fiery truck wreck snarls I-40 traffic

Firefighters use foam to extinguish rolls of plactic wrap cargo in a tractor trailer after it slamme...

This map shows the location of the semi truck fire that shut down Interstate 40 in North Little Rock on Thursday, March 7, 2013.

A semi-truck that wrecked and caught fire in North Little Rock the afternoon of Thursday, March 7, 2013, shut traffic in both directions on Interstate...

A semi-truck that wrecked and caught fire in North Little Rock the afternoon of Thursday, March 7, 2013, shut traffic in both directions on Interstate...

The remains of an 18-wheeler that caught fire Thursday, March 7, on Interstate 40 in North Little Rock smolders under the Young Road bridge about 1:40...

RAW: 18-wheeler catches fire, shuts I-40 in NLR

A semi-truck that wrecked and caught fire in North Little Rock on Thursday afternoon shut traffic on...

I-40 Tractor Trailer Wreck

Photographs from Thursday afternoon's tanker wreck that killed one man and halted traffic on Interst...

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.

Comments on: Fatal semi wreck blocks I-40 west, snarls traffic through rush hour

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Displaying 1 - 7 of 7 total comments

TheBatt says... March 7, 2013 at 2:59 p.m.

I'm trying to gasp what happened... is the article saying the truck slammed into the bridge? That the bridge may or may not be structurally sound?

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GottaMakeIt says... March 7, 2013 at 3:55 p.m.

>TheBatt: Yes, that's what it says. Here, I've copied/pasted the 3 clues telling what happened.
1) A tractor trailer slammed into an Interstate 40 overpass in North Little Rock and
2) crews assessed the damage to the overpass and whether it was in danger of collapsing.
3) crews assess the structural viability of the bridge, which appeared to be struck by the truck.

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Felina says... March 7, 2013 at 3:57 p.m.

Pretty scary! So sad about the driver.

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srainbolt2 says... March 7, 2013 at 4:18 p.m.

So, the same driver (of the single-vehicle accident) who was helped from the wreckage by motorists & suffered apparent burns to "100 percent of his body" is the same one pronounced dead by the Pulaski County Coroner?

Not very well written.

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Bart says... March 7, 2013 at 6:46 p.m.

This is pretty sketchy. Tractors burn diesel so must assume the tanks ruptured in the bridge impact. But how the heck did other motorists manage to help him out of the vehicle if already burned over 100% of his body. That implies the cab was engulfed by fire. Amazed that anyone could have approached the tractor under such circumstances. Heroes if so. Strange situation! Rolls of plascic are not considered volitile. Very interesting.

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able2ru_aol.com says... March 7, 2013 at 7:08 p.m.

Wow, this is the only news agency that I have found, including the tv stations, that said WHAT was burning! With all the smoke, you have to wonder if it was chemicals or toxic substances that people were driving through. Plastic could still have some toxic properties, but at least you have an idea now. Good job at reporting!

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