Traffic moving again on I-40 following crash that killed one person, ARDOT says

FORREST CITY, Ark. — A car hydroplaned during heavy rain Monday afternoon, setting off a fiery chain reaction on Interstate 40 near Forrest City, according to a preliminary investigation by the Arkansas Department of Transportation (ArDOT).

A tanker truck carrying diesel fuel went up in flames, closing part of I-40 near Forrest City, Arkansas, Monday afternoon. Lanes on I-40 eastbound reopened Tuesday around 12:15 p.m., 21 hours after the crash that left one person dead.

Eight tractor trailers, three pickup trucks, and two passenger cars were involved in the crash around 3:15 p.m. Monday, according to ArDOT.

At least one person was trapped in their vehicle as fire engulfed the scene near Exit 247 in St. Francis County, Arkansas State Police said.

Flames could be seen roaring from the diesel truck, and large plumes of black smoke clouded the skies.

Arkansas State Police said that traffic in the area was expected to be backed up for no less than seven hours. Even two hours after the crash, traffic in the area was closed, and cars lined the interstate for miles.

ArDOT said that employees for the Department of Transportation were on the scene, handing out water and doing what they could to take care of those stuck in the backup. ArDOT is attempting to divert and turn around drivers in the area.

At 9:30 p.m., more than six hours after the crash, all eastbound lanes remained closed. There was not an exact time frame on when eastbound lanes would reopen, but westbound lanes were open and moving.

People still caught in the backup Monday night were mostly truck drivers and only a handful of passenger cars. Everyone else had been detoured, according to ArDOT.

The fire from the crash damaged a bridge near Mile Marker 46 near Widener, officials said.

ArDOT worked on temporary repairs to reopen I-40 E Tuesday afternoon after crews removed debris, oil and diesel fuel from the road.