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MONTROSE, Ga. -- Four people are reported dead after multiple crashes and a tanker truck fire on a Georgia interstate Wednesday morning.

One of the deceased was a driver for FedEx, according to a statement from the company. His name has not been released.

The multicar pile-up occurred on the westbound side of Interstate 16 in Laurens County.

Georgia State Patrol reported the accident involved four separate crashes and a total of 27 vehicles, including seven commercial vehicles. Firefighters from multiple agencies battled fires on the scene.

"There were six vehicles right there together and all of them were on fire," said Laurens County EMS director Terry Cobb.

Joy Pope, a 911 operator with Laurens County, said emergency responders were working to extinguish a fire involving a tanker truck.

Officials said westbound I-16 would likely be closed until Wednesday evening. One eastbound lane reopened just after noon.

The injured were taken to Fairview Park Hospital in Dublin, Ga.

The pileup happened near Montrose, about 40 miles southeast of Macon. It shut down a roughly seven-mile stretch of the highway, forcing cars to be detoured around the area.

Martha Strickland of Dublin said she and her daughter drove through the accident area around 8:30 a.m. on the eastbound side of I-16, which was clear but clouded with smoke.

The tanker had not exploded, she says, but the truck cab was on fire as was the car ahead of and behind it.

Regarding earlier reports of three fatalities, Strickland says, "If only three people died, it will be a miracle. It was just destruction. It was like a war zone."

Cobb told The Associated Press that emergency officials encountered fog on the way to the crash site. However, it was not immediately known if fog was a factor in the wreck.

"Once we got there, the fog was kind of lifted at the scene," he said.

Contributing: The Associated Press



Copyright 2014 USATODAY.com

Read the original story: Official: 4 dead in fiery highway crash in Ga.

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