There are conflicting reports about the role smoke from a prescribed fire may have played in the massive vehicle crashes on Interstate 4 in Florida yesterday. Some law enforcement officials are saying that smoke and fog combined to cause low visibility. Others are saying smoke was not a problem, that it was only dense fog. Describing the current activities on the fire, the Division of Forestry said:
“Smoke is going to continue to be our number one concern until this is over.”
The prescribed fire was conducted by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission who started it at 9 a.m. on Tuesday in an area called the Green Swamp. Within three hours it was out of control. Now it is 500 acres and 90% contained.
The Leger has more information about the escaped prescribed fire:
“As the flames picked up, Division of Forestry firefighter John Wurster arrived to help Fish and Wildlife workers. The workers were equipped with a bulldozer that was cutting a fireline in an attempt to stop the flames from spreading.
Conditions suddenly worsened. The wind changed, humidity dropped, and flames increased, Wurster said.
Ten minutes later, Wurster’s fellow firefighter had been burned on his hand and face, the Division of Forestry had lost a $150,000 bulldozer, and firefighters were running from flames.
By late evening, nine Division of Forestry workers helped contain 90 percent of the fire. Smoke continued to billow from the swamp into the morning.”