State Police spokesman Bill Sadler says he’s gotten reports that a vehicle, probably a tanker-trailer, exploded in the westbound lane of I-40 at 12:30 this afternoon near the Crystal Hill overpass. The witness who posted the photograph above said it appeared to be an 18-wheeler.
The driver was airlifted to a hospital with severe burns; the smoke from the fire can be seen from downtown. Sadler said the fire was reportedly under control, though he did not know if it was still burning.
Both lanes of I-40 are blocked and traffic stacked up because there are no nearby exits, Sadler said. It’s unclear whether the tanker hit the overpass. The state Highway and Transportation Department has cleared the overpass.
UPDATE: The Times Patrick Jones captured the video above.
Eastbound traffic is now moving, but the North Little Rock Fire Department said the Young Road overpass is in danger of collapsing, according to multiple reports from TV reporters on Twitter. Reports indicate it’ll be 2 or 3 hours until inspectors can tell the status of the overpass, which means it will be at least that long—and possibly quite longer—until I-40 westbound is open again.