Between 1:30 p.m. and 1:55 p.m., e.s.t., on February 28, 1983, a grass fire of an undetermined origin was ignited in the gore area between the southbound exit ramp from Interstate Route 75 (1-75) to U.S. Route 27 and the southbound lanes of I-75. The fire burned rapidly, and a strong wind from the south-southwest fanned dense smoke across the southbound lanes of I-75. About 2 p.m., the smoke reduced visibility for a 200- to 300-foot stretch of the roadway from near zero to about 40 to 60 feet. Approaching drivers had a clear view of the smoke cloud for over 2 miles before entering the smoke, but they responded with diverse assumptions and drove into and through the smoke at a wide range of speeds. At least 22 vehicles, including three combination vehicles, all traveling south on I-75, entered the cloud of smoke and were involved in multiple vehicle collisions. Vehicle fuel tanks were breached and a gasoline fed fire erupted. Fourteen vehicles, including all three combination vehicles, were burned. In addition to extensive property damage being caused, 5 vehicle occupants were killed and 36 were injured. At least three rescuers suffered thermal injuries.