Fire Sparks Mile-Long Car Wreck That Kills 10

Officials investigate whether arsonist set blaze
By Neal Colgrass,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 29, 2012 4:05 PM CST
9 Dead in Mile-Long Fla. Wreck Caused by Fire
Aerial view of Interstate 75 in Gainesville, Fla. where according to Florida Highway Patrol at least 9 people have died as a result of multiple crashes Sunday, Jan. 29, 2012.   (AP Photo/The Gainesville Sun, Rob C. Witzel)

A fire near Gainesville, Fla., sent smoke billowing across Interstate 75 that caused a horrific multi-vehicle pileup and left at least ten people dead and 18 others injured today. Officials are investigating whether the blaze was arson or started by accident, the AP reports. In the darkness of early morning, drivers enveloped in smoke and a faint fog collided in a mass of cars, big rigs, and a motor home. "You heard like 15 times somebody hit, from this side and that, north and south. It was bad," one driver told the Gainesville Sun.

“It was a very traumatic situation and a very frightening situation, to be ... hearing crashes, hearing explosions, hearing people scream and call for help and not be able to get to them," a sheriff said. The first rescuers could only follow the sound of moans and screams. Reporters on the scene saw a tractor-trailer burned down to its skeleton and charred human remains trapped inside a burned Grand Prix. The wreckage went on for nearly a mile. Authorities say the fire, now contained, has consumed some 62 acres of prairie land. (Read more car accident stories.)

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