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Amber Alert

Thursday, January 10, 2008

I-4 remains closed after fatal wrecks

Heavy fog shrouded a central Florida highway early Thursday, forcing crews to stop repairing the road that was the scene of a 70-car accident that killed four people and injured 38 a day earlier. Interstate 4 has been closed since a series of accidents Wednesday morning on the main road connecting Tampa and Orlando. The fog is being blamed for causing the series of crashes that involved cars along 14 miles of the highway.

All the vehicles damaged in the collisions have been removed.

Fires from burning trucks scorched the asphalt and crews worked until about 3:30 a.m. trying to make repairs. By then, more fog forced workers to stop.

"Please don't even try to come here," Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd told CNN early Thursday. His agency closed numerous roads because of the fog.

Investigators are working with families and medical examiners to identify the dead, Florida Highway Patrol Trooper Larry Coggins said. Five people were also seriously injured in the crashes. Their conditions were unknown Thursday morning.

One of the trucks destroyed in the collision and an ensuing blaze was a tractor trailer carrying an estimated 500 pieces of U.S. priority mail. It was next to a fuel tanker that was also hit and burst into flames, U.S. Postal Service spokesman Gary Sawtelle said.

All the packages, which were bound for delivery in central Florida and Miami, were destroyed, he said in a statement.

Officials continue to investigate whether smoke from a brush fire burning near I-4 contributed to the crash. The fire began as a controlled burn, but jumped fire lines and scorched 400 acres.Source