An SUV smashed into a smaller car Sunday afternoon in the southbound lanes of Lake City Way Northeast, causing an explosion and fire, and killing the smaller car's two occupants.

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Two people were killed and three injured Sunday in a fiery car crash that shut down both directions of Lake City Way Northeast for hours.

The accident occurred about 3:40 p.m., when a Ford Explorer driven by a man in his 40s rear-ended a Hyundai sedan at the intersection of Lake City Way Northeast and Northeast 110th Street in Seattle, authorities said. Both vehicles were southbound on Lake City Way, police said.

The violent collision propelled the vehicles more than a hundred yards from the intersection. The car exploded and the resulting fire also spread to the SUV, said Kyle Moore, spokesman for the Seattle Fire Department.

By the time police and fire crews arrived, the car was engulfed in flames and rescuers were unable to save the two occupants, said James Johnson of Seattle, who witnessed part of the rescue effort.

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The unidentified man and woman in the car were pronounced dead at the scene, according to Detective Jeff Kappel, spokesman for the Seattle Police Department.

The driver of the SUV was found unconscious and taken to Harborview, Moore said. Police said his injuries were not considered life-threatening.

Two SUV passengers — girls ages 10 and 11 — also were hospitalized with serious injuries, he said.

As of Sunday evening, the accident scene remained blocked off as police investigated. A tarp lay over the crumpled car and an acrid smell of gasoline permeated the area.

Kappel said it was not yet clear how fast the SUV was traveling at the time of the accident.

All lanes of Lake City Way Northeast from Northeast 107th Street to Northeast 110th Street were closed for several hours Sunday night. Traffic in the area was detoured onto residential streets.

No citations or arrests were made at the scene, which Kappel said is standard procedure in such accidents, which require extensive accident reconstruction and follow-up investigation.

Jim Brunner: 206-515-5628 or

Seattle Times staff reporter Sara Jean Green contributed to this report.

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