Interstate 40 near downtown Knoxville has reopened following a fiery crash overnight that killed two people, ignited a chemical fire and detoured traffic for approximately eight hours.

The crash occurred just after 1 a.m. Wednesday when an SUV entered the eastbound lanes in the wrong direction from James White Parkway and struck an oncoming tractor-trailer, according to Knoxville Police Department spokesman Darrell DeBusk.

No sooner did Knox County E-911 receive a reported sighting of the white SUV headed west in the eastbound than multiple calls followed with word of the crash, just west of the Interstate 275 interchange.

“It was all just within a matter of seconds,” DeBusk said.

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