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Montrose Fire May Have Clouded I-16 Visibility Before Crash | News

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Montrose Fire May Have Clouded I-16 Visibility Before Crash
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Stacy Cook-Cooper lives in Montrose in a heavily wooded area. It's why when a nearby controlled fire spread to her property Tuesday, she says she's lucky it didn't reach her house.

But it did destroy her front yard. "And so that night I just kind of stayed up all night long and didn't go to bed because I was afraid that it would burn up my house, and I've got two kids," she says.

While the fire was contained by Wednesday morning, her whole neighborhood was filled with a thick, white smoke.

"It was like driving through a gallon of milk," Cooper says. "It was so thick that you couldn't see off the front of your car."  She says the only reason she was able to drive was by knowing the neighborhood and making sure the road was undernearth her.

She thinks the smoke from the fire could have affected other motorists yesterday in the fatal accidents, since her house is less than a mile from I-16.

Georgia State Patrol Sgt. Ken DeLoach confirmed that the Montrose fire is being looked at as a possible cause of the visibility issues on I-16 that may have contributed to the multi-car accidents.

Laurens County Fire Chief Don Bryant says the person who started the fire did have the proper burn permits from the Georgia Forestry Department.

"He had done the things that he should have done before he started the fire," says Bryant.  He says controlled burns spreading off course is common, but that are usually easily contained.

No matter the cause, Cooper says people should be more careful, especially in wooded neighborhoods.

"You should be aware of what you're burning, you know because there's houses popping up everywhere, and I live in a double wide, so it can go up really quick."

You can follow 13WMAZ's Tom George on Twitter at @thetomgeorge or like him on Facebook at www.facebook.com/tomgeorgewmaz

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