Fog, smoke contribute to I-10 pileup

By Don Culpepper - bio | email

JACKSON COUNTY, MS (WLOX) - It started around 3:45am near Moss Point when one vehicle plowed into the back of a car being towed. But a deadly combination of fog and smoke turned a minor accident into an eight vehicle pileup.

"You could come upon an accident, and if you're traveling 70 miles an hour, and that accident is stopped in the roadway, you're going to come upon it really quick," Mississippi Highway Patrol Spokesman Johnny Poulos said.

Poulos believes that's what happened as other vehicles came upon the accident scene just west of the Escatawpa River Bridge. It's a scene that's all too common.

"This time of year, we're going to contend with this," Poulos said. "A lot of times you can come up to a bridge, visibility is great, come down to the bottom of it and visibility goes to zero."

In this case, smoke from a nearby wildfire only made matters worse.

"Smoke by itself is something that's hard to see through, to try to get from point A to point B. But when you add the fog and the atmospheric conditions to it, it becomes an invisible blockage that you just cannot see from one way to the other," Harrison County Fire Marshal George Mixon said.

Mixon said the fire code recommends any burning should end at sundown.

"It's a hazardous situation and anybody burning near the interstate needs to think twice before they do it. And anybody that's going to burn needs to be sure that the fire is out before the sun goes down."

Otherwise, Mixon said, the smoke combines with the fog to create the kind of conditions that can turn a dangerous situation into a deadly one.