Controlled Burn Causes Upshur County Accident - KLTV.com - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

10/31/07-Longview

Controlled Burn Causes Upshur County Accident

      Smoke from a controlled burn covers an East Texas highway, causing a multi-vehicle accident that sends one person to the hospital. It happened Wednesday morning near FM 593 and Highway 271,  that's 9 miles north of Gilmer.

     "It was like going into a wall of fog" said passing motorist Willie Flowers.

     By the time dawn came, you'd never know it. The smoke was so thick across the roadway,  visibility was only a matter of yards.

    "The closer you got the worse it got, when you got up to here the smoke was just like a heavy fog so bad you couldn't see down the bottom" said Flowers.

     The pall of smoke had some thinking about possibly evacuating their families.

  "So I'm kind of watching the smoke if it doesn't clear out here the next thirty minutes, I'm gonna take them and go where there's no smoke" said Ewell Volunteer Firefighter and area resident Brenda Brooks.

      County officials and law enforcement were informed about this controlled burn of 100 acres yesterday but when they arrived this morning they saw billowing smoke across the highway and an accident happening in front of state troopers.

     "We were actually driving through the smoke when we heard and saw the crash" said trooper Steven Sutton.

  DPS troopers say the thick smoke caused a chain reaction crash, as one motorist ran into the back of an 18-wheeler, then two more cars collided into that accident.

    "We had one that was injured that was care-flighted out she was talking she was coherent at the time of the crash" Sutton says.

    The injured woman remains in stable condition tonight at ETMC in Tyler. Authorities say the land owner did have a permit for a controlled burn, so no charges are expected. Highway 271 was shutdown for almost 3 hours before being reopened.  

    Bob Hallmark, Reporting bhallmark@kltv.com

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