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    The Alligator Alley Incident: The Incident

    At 5:05 am on the 25th, state troopers along I-75 responded to what would be the first in a series of 8 vehicle accidents in the immediate vicinity of the refuge burn. The accidents involved 27 vehicles, and resulted in 13 injuries, 3 fatalities, and 9 hours of interstate closure as victims were treated, scenes were investigated, and wreckage was cleared. Several news stations attributed the cause of the crash to fog. Local media helicopter footage confirmed residual smokes were few and small by the time personnel returned to the site on the 25th. However, later on the 25th media alleged the refuge prescribed burn may have violated Florida's Open Burning Rules by allowing smoke to drift into the roadway during the evening hours.

    Florida Highway Patrol investigated the crashes, concluding that fog and smoke (citing the odor of smoke) from the prescribed burns contributed to the vehicle accidents. Review by the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, Office of Agricultural Law Enforcement found the burn to be well planned and properly executed with no violations of laws or Division of Forestry rules. Furthermore, an internal on site review found the burn to have been safely and properly carried out within prescription, and that it abided by all regulations and policies.

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    Alligator Alley