Two big rigs and two passenger vehicles collided and spilled diesel fuel across a Florida highway Thursday, sparking a massive fire that killed seven people, authorities say. The wreck happened on Interstate 75 about a mile south of Alachua, near Gainesville. The flames were fed by about 50 gallons of diesel, authorities say. Several others were taken to the hospital, some with critical injuries, the Gainesville Sun reported. Authorities initially said six had died but late Thursday night revealed a seventh victim had perished.
Emergency crews extinguished the fire and said they were treating the crash as a homicide investigation. The fire was so intense that authorities said it damaged parts of the road. A spokesman for the Florida Highway Patrol tells the AP that their top priorities are to conduct a thorough investigation and to identify the deceased victims. "There's going to be families that need to be notified that their loves ones have perished," says Lieutenant PV Riordan. It's unclear whether the victims were killed in the wreck or whether they burned in the fire, which would make identification more difficult, he says. The aftermath closed part of the highway in both directions, causing massive delays.
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