Interstate 4 in Central Florida was reopened this morning, Jan. 11, after about 70 vehicles crashed in an area blanketed by fog and smoke from a brush fire early Wednesday, killing four people, authorities told the Associated Press. Nearly 15 miles of Interstate 4 between Lakeland and Haines City was closed by several crashes, including the pileup, authorities told the news agency.
The poor visibility forced rescuers to walk along the closed interstate checking individual vehicles for injured motorists, Trooper Larry Coggins of the Florida Highway Patrol told the AP; the conditions cleared in late morning, showing mangled trucks and cars pinned underneath some tractor-trailers. Coggins told the news agency that 38 people were injured, five seriously.
FHP is investigating the crash and the role of smoke from the fire, which started as a controlled burn, grew out of control and, along with the fog, likely contributed to the crashes, Coggins told the AP.