I-40 in Knoxville back open after crash, vehicle fire closes interstate


UPDATE: Police have confirmed one person was killed in a multivehicle crash that shut down I-40 near Knoxville in both directions for several hours Wednesday.

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — A multivehicle crash involving a tractor-trailer and a reported vehicle fire shut down both directions of Interstate 40 Wednesday night.

Tennessee Department of Transportation spokesperson Mark Nagi tweeted late Wednesday night that the eastbound lanes of I-40 were being reopened after hours of closure following the crash. Westbound lanes reopened around 12:45, Nagi said.

About an hour after their first tweet about the scene, the Knoxville Police Department tweeted that “all eastbound and westbound lanes of I-40 will be closed indefinitely. Eastbound traffic is being diverted to the Strawberry Plains exit, while westbound traffic is being diverted to exit 417. This will be an extended closure. Seek alternate routes if possible.”

TDOT’s Nagi had tweeted Wednesday night about the incident, saying I-40 is closed in both directions at mile marker 399 (one mile from the Strawberry Plains exit) due to a serious crash/fire involving a commercial vehicle and several passenger vehicles. Nagi also said the right shoulders on both sides of the interstate were open as traffic would still be back in that area.

Earlier Wednesday evening, the Tennessee Department of Transportation SmartWay Map showed a vehicle fire that was reported on I-40 West near mile marker 399 and westbound lanes were closed. Shortly after, TDOT reported a multivehicle crash on I-40 East near mile marker 398 that shut down two of three eastbound lanes and the left shoulder was blocked.

Knoxville Police and Knoxville Fire were working the scene. Tennessee Highway Patrol said they were assisting. Reports of the crash and vehicle fire came in around 6:30 p.m. Knoxville Police tweeted about the I-40E wreck, stating that officers were working a serious crash on I-40 East near mile marker 400. Lane closures were in place in both the westbound and eastbound lanes of travel.

KFD tweeted that the eastbound lanes on I-40 East at Strawberry Plains were shut down due to an 18-wheeler wreck and advised that people avoid the area if possible.

Further down the interstate, Sevierville Police also tweeted about the incident, advising drivers to seek alternate routes: “I-40 between mm 398 and 404mm traffic is stopped due to multivehicle fatality wreck in Knox Co.”

(TDOT SmartWay)

WATE 6 On Your Side reached out to THP and KPD for initial crash reports; with THP spokespeople saying that KPD was investigating the crash and THP was assisting. Officials will share updates as they’re made available.

 This is a developing story. Download the WATE 6 News app for updates sent to your phone.

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