Fog, swamp fire smoke cause second fatal highway pileup in as many weeks
Dense fog and smoke from a nearby swamp fire caused yet another fatal highway crash in the New Orleans area Tuesday.
At least one driver was killed, several people were injured and police temporarily closed a section of Interstate 10 in the early hours of the morning.
Visibility fell to less than a quarter-mile at times on New Orleans-area roads. People stuck in the traffic jam caused by the highway closure posted photos and videos on social media that show vehicles directly in front of them rendered nearly invisible.
The interstate was closed for several hours, with both east- and westbound traffic resuming by early afternoon.
The incident was similar to another crash in late October, when a combination of fog and smoke — superfog — on Interstate 55 caused a 160-vehicle pileup that killed seven people. Both incidents were caused in part by smoke from a fire burning on private land just outside Bayou Sauvage National Urban Wildlife Refuge.
The fire is burning underground in an area of wetland that is difficult to access, officials said. New Orleans’ Sewerage and Water Board, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the New Orleans Fire Department have been working together for weeks to pump water from nearby canals to flood the area and extinguish the fire. Since adding five additional pumps on Monday, according to a press release, they have been pumping 1.4 million gallons of water per hour into the affected area.
City officials are urging drivers to use extreme caution when driving along I-10 and I-510 in the vicinity of the fire, particularly in the morning and evening hours, when fog is most likely.