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The scene of the fatal crash is shown. (Twitter Photo/@DPSOfficerCook)

PHOENIX -- A serious car crash has closed a portion of the Loop 101 freeway in east Phoenix.

Arizona Department of Transportation officials say a car overturned and caught fire Thursday afternoon.

"Initial reports tell us that a ladder or some sort of debris was in the roadway and a vehicle swerved to avoid that," said Carrick Cook with the Arizona Department of Public Safety. "Now, when the vehicle did that, they sideswiped another car and then subsequently was hit two times by other vehicles."

Cook said at least three cars caught on fire and reports of a vehicle backing up are confirmed.

A female driver was killed. A 43-year-old male, a 79-year-old female, a 69-year-old male and 53-year-old female were hospitalized, said Chris Ketterer with the Phoenix Fire Department.

Four vehicles were involved.

The freeway was reopened about 6:20 p.m.

Cook said the road itself sustained some damage.

KTAR's Martha Maurer contributed to this report.

Associated Press,

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