Interstate 40 remains closed at the 74 mile marker westbound after a motor vehicle collision occurred near the 71 mile marker, just before 4:30 a.m. Wednesday morning, September 15.

The collision involved multiple vehicles, at least three semi’s, and one of the semi’s was a tanker truck hauling a flammable substance. The crash occurred following a rollover accident that occurred previously (just before 2 a.m.) that involved a semi that had overturned.

When the second collision occurred the semi’s involved erupted in fire. It was believed that the tanker involved in the crash was hauling a Class 3 flammable substance and for that reason, the collision is being handled as a hazmat incident.

After Pope County dispatchers received a 911 call reporting the crash, they dispatched the Arkansas State Police, Pope County Sheriff’s Office, Pope County EMS 133 and the London Fire Department to respond to a motor vehicle collision with injury involving a large vehicle fire at the 71 mile marker westbound on I-40.

Responders checked en route and as the responded to the scene, dispatch offered additional information concerning the call.

Dispatch advised that law enforcement was attempting to get a more precise location, but the 911 caller reported that the collision occurred before the rest stop. The caller reported that there was possibly burn victims and the semi’s that collided were actively on fire. Dispatch then stated they were attempting to obtain further information.

Upon the request of the London Fire Department, Russellville Fire Department Hazmat was also dispatched to respond to the scene.

London firefighters arrived on scene and offered a size up to dispatch advising, “large truck fire, fully involved and involving multiple trucks.” Dispatch was advised that the collision was located at the 71.5 mile marker on the westbound side of the interstate near the authorized vehicle crossover on the Johnson and Pope county line.

London Fire Department’s 502 then requested mutual aid assistance from the Knoxville Fire Department to attack the fire from the west side and tanker and engine support from the Crow Mountain Fire Department. London 502 then radioed dispatch and advised that due to the intensity of the fire, he was unable to determine what flammable substance the tanker was hauling.

Pope County EMS arrived on scene and made contact with three patients involved in the collision. EMS personnel advised that they were unable to make contact with two patients due to the fire. Pope County EMS Rescue was then toned to respond, but a short time later, their response was cancelled.

According to London Fire Department command, “There is approximately 300 yards of debris prior to the crash, both westbound lanes of I-40 are blocked and it will likely take several hours for clean up efforts.”

As additional fire units arrived at the crash, the London Fire Department, Russellville Fire Department, Crow Mountain Fire Department and the Knoxville Fire Department began fighting to extinguish the blaze.

Firefighters continued their attack on the intense fire and at 6:30 a.m., command informed dispatch that the fire was under control.

Firefighters continued to work suppressing what remained of the fire until it was later extinguished. As the fire was extinguished, the Pope County Coroner’s Office was dispatched to the scene.

At 7:15 a.m., Crow Mountain Fire Department’s 451 advised dispatch they had been released by London Fire Department command. Crow Mountain Tanker 483 remained on scene to provide a water supply as firefighters worked to ensure the fire had been completely extinguished.

A short time later, the Knoxville Fire Department returned to their station available for service and at 7:31 a.m. Pope County EMS 131 advised dispatch they would be available for service as well.

At 9:30 a.m., command of the scene was terminated by the London Fire Department and all London firefighters returned to their station available for service. 

At the time of this story, the investigation of the crash continues by the Arkansas State Police and other responding agencies. The westbound lanes of Interstate 40 between mile marker 74 and the Knoxville exit remain closed as clean up efforts are underway.

If you plan to travel this area, it is suggested that you take Highway 64 west to Knoxville. The estimated time until the area will be reopened to traffic is unknown.

No further information has been released at this time but as updates are received, River Valley Now will update readers.

The attached photos were taken from the scene of the crash. Some photos may disturb readers.