Fire that led to fatal Interstate 75 crash may have been set by arsonist

GAINESVILLE, Fla. (AP) -- Florida officials are investigating whether an arsonist set the fire that caused the smoke that led to a deadly traffic crash near Gainesville.

State forestry spokeswoman Ludie Bond said that the fire started Saturday. Officials know it wasn't a controlled burn or caused by lightning, so it was either started accidentally or intentionally set. Smoke from the fire mixed with fog to cause multi-vehicle pileups on Interstate 75 early Sunday that killed at least nine people.

Bond said the fire has burned 62 acres of prairie and is contained, but it continues to burn. She said a similar fire has been burning in the area since mid-November because the vegetation is so thick and deep.

She said no homes are currently threatened.

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