Smoke from Grass Fire in Oklahoma Blamed for Deadly Collision

Smoke from Grass Fire in Oklahoma Blamed for Deadly Collision

18 March 2011

published by

USA — Two people were killed and five injured in a six-vehicle pileup on Interstate 40 in western Oklahoma that’s blamed on heavy smoke from a grass fire.

The Oklahoma Highway Patrol says 67-year-old Roy Rogers and 65-year-old Billy Ratliff of Clinton died of injuries suffered in the crash just before 5 p.m. on Mar. 16.

Troopers say the pileup began when the driver of a sport utility vehicle drove into the smoke near Clinton and lost control – then overturned in the eastbound lanes of traffic. A chain-reaction collision involving two tractor-trailer rigs, two cars and a pickup truck followed.

Investigators say one of the tractor-trailers caught fire and several of the vehicles were destroyed by flames – including the car carrying Rogers and Ratliff.

It could be another busy day for firefighters across Oklahoma.

The National Weather Service issued a fire weather watch for 17 counties in western Oklahoma.

Southwest winds of 20 to 25 mph with higher gusts are forecast, and temperatures are expected to range from 85 to 94 degrees in that region of the state. The relative humidity will be between 10 and 20 percent.

Wildfires erupted across Oklahoma last week, destroying at least 34 homes and injuring 15 people. Conditions improved over the weekend as a cold front brought cooler temperatures, lighter winds and precipitation to the state.

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