Smoke rising from I-40

An apparent car fire has stopped traffic dead on the 40 East between Nashville and Knoxville. Looks like it just happened; cops are just arriving. Hope everyone's okay.

UPDATE, 10:02 PM EDT: The accident has set off a sizeable brush fire along the righthand side of the road, and the authorites seem pretty busy fighting the fire(s) at the moment, so I don’t think we’re going anywhere anytime soon.

UPDATE, 10:18 PM: I walked up maybe a mile from where we’re stopped, and took some pictures. Click any image for the full-size verison.

UPDATE, 10:53 PM: We’re moving!

UPDATE, 10:57 PM: The fire was started by a truck hauling maybe 10 cars!! That would explain the size of the fire! Wow… all (or at least nearly all) the cars were toast.

The fire appeared to be out as we drove by.

P.S. As I was walking up toward the scene (I never got closer than maybe a couple hundred yards away — didn’t want to interfere with the police or put myself in danger), I overheard a bystander relaying a second-hand report of “cars exploding.” I dismissed it as unreliable hearsay, a result of the old “playing telephone” problem, which is very common in situations like that… but given that it was a car hauler that apparently started the fire, the report actually makes sense. A fire could easily have set off a chain reaction, causing multiple cars to explode, or at least to rapidly and dramatically go up in flames. It was dark when we drove by, but some of those cars appeared to have very little of ’em left.

P.P.S. Welcome, InstaPundit readers! Shortly after publishing the photos, I link-whored this post to Glenn (figuring, correctly, that Tennessee News + Citizen Journalism = Instalanche), and I also e-mailed various Nashville and Knoxville TV stations, and the Tennessean. A reporter for the latter promptly returned my call and interviewed me by phone about the accident. I don’t know if I said anything interesting enough to make the paper, though.

UPDATE, 11:34 PM: Hey, on second thought, the article is online, and I am indeed quoted:

Smith County Police are responding to a wreck on Interstate 40 east near mile marker 262. The eastbound lanes were closed for over an hour, and emergency workers have just reopened the left lane.

The accident was caused by an 18-wheeler hauling cars that caught fire at about 8 p.m. Brendan Loy was on the way from the Nashville airport to Knoxville with his wife when they were caught in the traffic and sat still for an hour and 40 minutes, he said.

“People didn’t know what was going on and obviously wanted to get some kind of information,” he said. Loy said he couldn’t tell whether anyone was hurt, but that it looked like the majority of the fire was in the cars on the back of the trailer.

“I didn’t really get a real good view of [the] cab, but it didn’t look like that was as charred as those cars were,” he said. Police could not confirm whether there were any injuries.

I didn’t get a photo of the car hauler as we drove by, but I did take video out the window. It was dark, but I’ll post it later if it shows anything worthwhile.

UPDATE, 11:45 PM: Those who aren’t regulars may be wondering how I am blogging all this while in the car. (As I type right now, we’re 65 miles out of Knoxville.) I have a magical Sprint phone that I can use as a modem for my laptop, giving me virtually unlimited, albeit slow, Internet access from just about anywhere for a mere $15 a month. As a result, I routinely surf the Internet from the car while Becky is driving. That’s how I added all the updates to this post. (The original post, with just the camera-phone pic and the brief caption below it, was posted directly from Becky’s phone, without use of my laptop. But then I hooked up the laptop to my “modem” phone and added all the updates, and uploaded the large photos.)

UPDATE, 12:06 AM: The above-linked Tennessean article is now using one of my photos! Also, apparently one of my photos was featured on the 10:00 News on WSMV Channel 4, Nashville’s NBC affiliate.

UPDATE, 12:30 AM: Almost home… finally.

Several small bugs, attracted by the light of my computer screen when we were stopped along the highway with our windows open, have hitched a ride to Knoxville with us. They’re still crawling around the computer screen as I type this. When the doors open, they’ll find themselves very far from home. Heh.

More photos after the jump!

20 Responses to “Smoke rising from I-40”

  1. Keri says:

    I also hope that everyone’s ok. And that you don’t need to go to the bathroom, because needing to pee when you’re stuck in traffic sucks.

  2. Briandot says:

    Mississippi Kentucky Burning.

  3. Briandot says:

    (Damn, the strikeout tags don’t work.)

  4. Briandot says:

    And I’m retarded, apparently, because I wrote the wrong f-ing state.

    Anyway, very pretty pictures.

  5. Jay Johnson says:

    Nothing quite like getting stuck on I-40 due to some incident, huh, Brendan?

    Also, I see by your coordinates that you were right around AlGore’s neck of the woods. Wonder if he came out to suggest some carbon offsets for the environmental damage caused by the fire? Or maybe it’s a net carbon loss anyway, given the polluting nature of the cars that burned?

    Anyway, you guys be careful on the last bit here. Robbie is quite anxious to get back to his parents. The short-legged ones are driving him nuts.

  6. Brendan Loy says:

    Hmm… we just passed what appeared to be a collision between a truck and a deer… but perhaps it was actually ManBearPig.

  7. DRJ says:

    Sprint/car/blogging journalism that was Instalanched and picked up by the MSM Tennessean. Pretty cool.

  8. kcatnd says:

    Citizen journalism at its finest.

  9. ScottF says:

    For those Tennesseans that didn’t know what hit them… Brendan Loy is in da house, or state, or whatever. :-)

    Moving somewhere new isn’t enough. You get on television and in the paper too hunh? :-) Nice job.

    Nice job to the emergency personnel too. This map shows you guys are feeling the effects of the drought too. Something like that could have easily gotten out of hand.

  10. Orion says:

    Those cars probably weren’t exploding – It’s a common mistake people make when they watch a car fire. I’ve fought several and when the tires go ‘POP!’ its a VERY large, VERY disconcerting loud bang with bits of rubber flying (steel belted radials just do NOT like to pop). I don’t think I’ve ever had the CAR explode (i.e. the gas tank), but I’ve had tires let go very close by and it made me want to find someplace quieter. :-D


  11. Brendan Loy says:

    ScottF: Heh.

    Orion, thanks. That makes sense. I wasn’t sure, which is why I fudged the point in my post: “…causing multiple cars to explode, or at least to rapidly and dramatically go up in flames…” Citizen journo-waffling at its best. :)

  12. Pat Berry says:

    Outside of movies and television, cars don’t explode unless they have been rigged with bombs. The “Mythbusters” crew actually tried to make a car explode by shooting its gas tank, and they couldn’t do it.

  13. Bonnie says:

    You have made your journalistic mark on Tennessee!

  14. edhesq says:

    You neglected to photograph “insurgents” dancing around the burned-out wreck?

    And you call yourself a journalist? Ha!

    You’ll never work in this town again Tirebiter.

  15. Anonymous says:

    Stay in your damn car. You’re just one more thing for the firemen to worry about.

  16. Brendan Loy says:

    Anon, I didn’t get anywhere near the accident; I guarantee you the police and firemen were at no point “worrying” about me. As I was walking up the highway, I was careful to stay on the left side, not the right side, where police cars and firetrucks were occasionally driving up. Moreover, I was hardly alone — there maybe a dozen people who were milling around at the same point, several hundred yards (maybe more than that – I’m terrible at estimating distance) from where the first police cars were, and many more people closer to their cars. I don’t know if you’ve ever been stuck on a highway for more than an hour with no movement whatsoever, but it’s pretty natural for people to get out, stretch their legs, walk around a little and ask what’s going on.

  17. Anonymous says:

    It’s natural for little old ladies to wipe out bystanders while rubbernecking too. “Hey, we have the medic here we might as well life flight someone” isone of the things the firefighters were saying.

    I have been stuck on the highway for hours and did get out of my car, I’m older and wiser now. People hit the big red trucks with flashing lights all the time. While directing traffic, I have had to jump out of the way while people look up the road to see the cause of an accident. You are a lot safer if you stay in your car.

  18. Andrew says:

    Is it me, or is that guy in the picture second from the bottom holding a Star Wars light sabre? “May da shwartz be wit’ you!”

  19. B. Durbin says:

    The local traffic guru— who sadly died earlier this year— had a number of catchphrases that should be used for all traffic reports.

    The appropriate one in this instance is “carbecue.”

    (Two of my other favorites are “The now inevitable ladder” and “The obligatory mattress” because some people don’t understand the concept of rope.)

  20. Joe Loy says:

    Juris Doctor Loy, you are going to make a fine Tennessee & Colorado & Whoknowswhere Else ol’ country Lawyer :) but the Journalistic Imperative will always remain Indwelling, deep Down at the fundamental Plancklevel of your timeless Soul.

    IOW: tomorrow always Worthy of All your Yesterdays, old Kiddoe. :)