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Four dead in massive Georgia pileup

Feb. 7, 2013 at 6:10 PM

MONTROSE, Ga., Feb. 7 (UPI) -- Lingering smoke from a controlled burn may have been a factor in a massive pileup on Interstate 16 in Georgia that left four people dead, officials said.

No timetable was set to reopen the right lane of westbound I-16 from mile markers 38 to 35 in Laurens County as engineers inspect damage to concrete, The Macon Telegraph reported Thursday.

The section of road was exposed to fire and immense heat during the crash.

The Georgia State Patrol said a reconstruction team is taking over the investigation of the crash, which involved 27 vehicles in 10 separate crashes over a quarter mile, the newspaper said.

A state police operator said Thursday it appeared dense fog and lingering smoke from controlled burns reduced visibility on the stretch of rural highway Wednesday morning, leading to the chain-reaction collisions. Vapors inside an empty tanker truck exploded, sending up a thick cloud of black smoke, The Telegraph said.

Clayton Warnock, 81, and Josephine Warnock, 74, of Dublin, Ga., were among those killed in the pileup, officials said. Nine other people were injured.

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