GAINESVILLE, Fla. (AP) — Seven people died after a crash and diesel fuel spill sparked a massive fire on a Florida interstate Thursday afternoon, highway officials said.
Two tractor-trailer rigs and two passenger vehicles were involved in the wreck on Interstate 75 about a mile (1.6 kilometers) south of Alachua, near Gainesville, according to the Florida Highway Patrol. The fire was ignited after about 50 gallons (189 liters) of diesel spilled onto the highway, authorities said.
Several others were taken to the hospital, some with critical injuries, the Gainesville Sun reported.
A helicopter landed on scene to search for any victims who may have been in the woods along the crash scene that Alachua County Sheriff's officials described as "extensive."
Authorities extinguished the fire, but the aftermath caused a portion of the interstate to be closed in both directions, causing massive delays Thursday evening.
The Alachua County Sherriff's office tweeted that the crash was in the northbound lanes but that the southbound lanes were closed to keep a route open for first responders, saying it "required all hands on deck" and warning "the closure is going to be lengthy."
The Florida Highway Patrol said a large amount of personal property, burnt vehicles and vehicle parts scattered across the road.
Authorities said they are treating it as a pending homicide investigation.