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January 5, 2012

50 vehicles collide in foggy Texas pileup

The Associated Press

PORT ARTHUR, Texas — A mass pileup involving at least 50 vehicles left dozens of people injured, four critically, as fog and smoke washed over a Southeast Texas highway early Thursday, officials said.

Jefferson County Sheriff's Department Deputy Rod Carroll said two cars caught fire but that nobody died in the chain-reaction collisions around 5:45 a.m. on Highway 73 just west of Port Arthur.

"Thank God it was before the school buses started running," Carroll said.

He said early morning fog combined with smoke from recent wildfires may have contributed to the crashes.

"Those two mixed to make zero visibility," Carroll said by phone as he surveyed the scene. Authorities closed a stretch of the highway about 80 miles east of Houston following the pileup.

Up to 40 people were treated for injuries including broken bones, abrasions and trauma, and one man suffered a heart attack, Carroll said.

Hazardous materials crews were helping with cleanup at the scene, Carroll said.

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