Arson may have led to deadly Fla. car crashes

A series of crashes early Sunday morning on Interstate 75 in Gainesville, Florida left wreckage strewn for nearly a mile in both directions and killed at least ten people.

CBS News correspondent Jeff Glor reports that drivers, it turns out, were blinded by fog and smoke from a nearby brush fire, and officials say that fire may have been a case of arson.

Nearly eight hours after the deadly pileups began, firefighters were still trying to put out the flames. The images from the scene are incredible: A hollowed-out tractor trailer still burning; just behind that, a white sedan under a pickup truck.

It happened after a series of cars and trucks collided with each other early Sunday morning. The drivers were blinded by smoke from a nearby brush fire.

At least 9 dead in wrecks on Fla. Interstate

"We had a mixture of fog smoke that combined that kind of laid into that area, that made visibility a factor and we had serious crashes that occurred both north and south bound," said Pat Riordan with the Florida Highway Patrol.

One driver told the Gainesville Sun she "couldn't see anything." Her car struck a guard rail. As she dialed 911, the driver said she heard as many as 15 crashes on both sides of the interstate.

The smoke and flames were so thick rescuers said they found the injured only by listening to their cries for help.

Late this morning, traffic was backed up for 10 miles as investigators worked through the wreckage.

State forestry officials say the brush fire was started Saturday. Although it has been contained now, it's already burned 62 acres, and is now responsible for one of the worst wrecks the state has ever seen.

Investigators are trying to determine whether the fire was intentionally set. A state forestry spokeswoman said there were no controlled burns in the area and no lightning.

On Sunday night, Interstate 75 remained closed to southbound traffic.

  • Jeff Glor

    Jeff Glor was named anchor of the Sunday edition of the "CBS Evening News" in January 2012 and Special Correspondent for "CBS This Morning" in November 2011.

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