Weather, not wildlife officials, to blame for deaths

Wildlife officials who started a prescribed fire that got out of hand and led to five deaths have been cleared of any wrongdoing by a state investigation, the Tampa Tribune and Lakeland Ledger report. A sudden change in weather is to blame for the smoke that created visibility problems on I-4 and resulted in a 70-car pileup on Jan. 9, according to the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services.

The comments left by readers at the Tampa Tribune article linked above are interesting. Some people indicated they didn’t expect the state to find its own workers negligent. Others said drivers need to remember to be careful in low-visibility situations. Still others said the state highway patrol should have shut down that portion of I-4. It’s an unfortunate tragedy no matter who is to blame.

If any good can come out of this, I hope it’s that fire managers will add even more layers of protection to their prescribed burns, and that transportation officials will be certain to know where burns are going on ahead of time just in case a fire gets out of hand again.

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