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FRANKLIN COUNTY, MO (KTVI) – A collision involving three tractor trailers closed Interstate 44 in both directions Thursday afternoon, the Missouri State Highway Patrol said.

According to Sgt. Al Nothum, a spokesman for the MSHP, the accident occurred at 12:45 p.m. near the Highway 50 exit in eastbound lanes of I-44 in Franklin County.  Black smoke could be seen billowing from the scene for miles.

Traffic was beginning to backup in one eastbound lane when one semi rear-ended the other. That semi then jackknifed and collided with a third tractor trailer. Two tractor trailers caught fire. They were both carrying hazardous materials, said to be paint and food products.

Westbound lanes of I-44 reopened by 3:30 p.m. Traffic is backed up in the area.   The right lane is open on eastbound I-44 at Route 50. The left lane will remain closed until pavement repairs can be made. The lanes will likely be closed through Friday morning rush hour.