Smoke from a prescribed fire in southern Mississippi caused a chain-reaction crash that involved a school bus on Friday. The U. S. Forest Service conducted a prescribed fire near Bethel Road in Harrison County which produced smoke that mixed with fog, reducing the visibility to near zero. As the school bus entered the smoke on Highway 15, the driver quickly slowed down and was hit from behind, followed by a six-vehicle chain-reaction crash. Thankfully there were no serious injuries.
Mississippi Highway Patrol spokesman Master Sergeant Johnny Poulos said:
The conditions today were not favorable for safe driving. We have the fog that came in that actually kept the smoke down to the roadway. Just a really bad situation when you’re trying to drive and navigate, especially with a school bus.
The Forest Service had signs posted on the highway that warned drivers about the smoke. Spokesman Mario Rossilli released a statement for the agency:
Safety is a top priority for the National Forests in Mississippi. Fortunately, according to reports, there were no serious injuries sustained in the accident today. The National Forests in Mississippi has already begun what will be a comprehensive review of this incident. We are always looking for ways to further enhance safety. Prescribed burning is actually one method of creating a safer forest environment for visitors, including those in vehicles, by reducing the threat of catastrophic wildfire. Stakeholders, including local, county and state law enforcement are notified before burns are initiated. Our Forest Service Law Enforcement Officers are active participants in our prescribed burns.
Here is a video about the accident from WLOX in Biloxi, MS: