Truck explosion causes traffic nightmare on Highway 40


by Stephanie Baumer and Brendan Marks / Staff

Posted on February 7, 2014 at 6:08 AM

Updated Friday, Feb 7 at 5:47 PM

( – A tractor trailer caught fire and exploded on Highway 40 early Friday morning, causing a traffic nightmare for many drivers heading into downtown St. Louis.

Click here to see photos from the scene 

The semi-truck wrecked in the westbound lanes of Highway 40-Interstate 64 just east of Jefferson around 5:50 a.m.

The truck then caught fire and Skyzoom 4 was over the scene when the explosion occurred. Firefighters responded to the scene and got the fire out by about 6:45 a.m.

One person was hurt, but it wasn't clear if the injured person was the truck driver. Their condition was unknown.

Raw: Tractor trailer explodes on St. Louis highway

According to the St. Louis Fire Department, a second trailer - which did not catch fire - contained 550 pounds of hazardous materials.

All westbound lanes of the highway were closed for several hours while crews worked to clear the scene. All lanes were back open by about 11:45 a.m.

Traffic at one point was backed up from the Kingshighway exit into Illinois. On the the Martin Luther King Bridge and Eads Bridge, traffic went back at least 1.5 miles. 

Drivers were being diverted off Highway 40 at the 9th St. exit. Motorists were funneled through downtown St. Louis and could get back onto the highway at Forest Park Pkwy.

Those coming from the Illinois side were being forced to exit at the Poplar Street Bridge onto Interstate 70 or the Interstate 44/55 ramp.

Authorities said it took hours to clear the scene because water used to douse the flames froze over on the roads.

No other details were immediately available.