Drivers killed in head-on crash that caused chemical fire on I-40

(Photo: David Killebrew, WATE)

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) – Two people died in a car crash that caused a chemical spill and fire on Interstate 40 East in Knoxville early Wednesday morning.

The Knoxville Police Department received a call just after 1 a.m. about an SUV that had entered the westbound lanes of the interstate going the wrong way from James White Parkway.

Seconds later, another 911 caller said two vehicles had collided near Interstate 275.

The SUV had collided head-on with a tractor trailer, causing it to burst into flames. The truck was carrying several hundred pounds of Benzoquinone, a hazardous chemical used for paints and dyeing. To avoid soil and water contamination, authorities allowed the chemical to burn.

All lanes of I-40 were closed until later in the morning to allow time to investigate and clean up.

Knoxville police say the driver of the tractor trailer, 67-year-old Trent Carroll of Evington, Virginia, and the driver of the SUV, 21-year-old Anthony Swartz of Maryville, were both killed.

The crash remains under investigation.

Crews continue to monitor air for safety and used a water-soluble foam to smother the fire, which a cleanup company will take away.

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