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Today, fog and smoke along Interstate 4, 12 miles west of Highway 27 set the stage for a 50-car pileup that has left at least three people dead, seven in serious condition, and several more trapped in their cars amid burning wreckage. When the smoke from a controlled burn drifted across the highway this morning, it combined with the fog off the cool, damp earth, reducing visibility. It is unclear how the crash started, but once it began, it continued, with over 20 tractor-trailer trucks and dozens of passenger vehicles heaped up.
Circling traffic helicopters could see the twisted metal and burning wrecks through the smoke, a thick black column rising from the crash. The fires gave the fog and smoke a hellish glow in the predawn darkness and early morning light. One reporter said, “I’ve never seen anything like this before. I’m at a loss for words.” Polk County Sherriffs have declared the crash site too dangerous to approach by car, so sheriffs are making their way by foot to render aid and assess damages.