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Early Morning Smoke, Fog Plaguing Alligator Alley Drivers

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Alligator Alley (Source: CBS4)

Alligator Alley (Source: CBS4)

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NAPLES (CBSMiami) — Traffic is moving quickly again on Alligator Alley after a portion was closed for a second time this week due to poor visibility.

It’s a relief to all the drivers who stopped to wait, or sat in traffic after thick fog created gridlock in Western Broward County.

The fog was so dense; road signs, vehicle taillights, and street lights were barely visible.

“It’s a very serious situation and everybody needs to use extreme caution when they drive in these conditions,” explained FHP Sgt. Mark Wysocky.

Florida Highway Patrol shut down U.S. 27 North from I-75 to SR 80 in Palm Beach County. The fog and smoke from a nearby brush fire on Alligator Alley also caused FHP to closed I-75 between Mile Marker 101 in Collier County and Mile Marker 23, which is the U.S. 27 exit, in Broward County.

“You couldn’t see about 2 or 3 car lengths in front of you,” said driver Glenn Kessler. Kessler, somehow, entered the Alley from Naples while the road was shutdown. He said he didn’t see any roadblocks and enjoyed driving alone.

“I felt kinda cool because I didn’t have to worry about nothing.”

The road closure stalled hundreds of drivers making deliveries. Mike Garcia needed to get to Naples to install fences at a construction site. Instead he waited out the highway closure at a nearby coffee shop.
“That delayed my day. The later I drive, the longer it takes me to get back,” said Garcia.

He said if troopers would allow it, he could navigate through the fog and smoke with ease but agreed that shutting down the highway is smart.

“I’m from New York, I can drive in the fog, in the snow, if it’s raining, I can drive anywhere but for safety it’s a good idea,” said Garcia.

We could see more shut downs in the coming days.  Fire season is beginning and conditions are dry in the Everglades.

Broward Sheriff Fire Rescue Lt. Fred North points out the sawgrass is dry and can be ignited easily by a lightning strike.

”Right now what happens is the fire will spread across the top of the Sawgrass and just continue to basically roll,” said North. “And depending on the wind issues we have out here, the wind will continue to make that fire spread rapidly.”

North also says drivers should be aware that there is a lot of dead grass on the side of the road that can also be fuel to a fire.  “Conditions are dry and it doesn’t take much for someone to throw a cigarette butt out the window and ignite this dry grass,” said North.  “Until we get some rain it’s going to continue to become dry.”

Safety is what has FHP troopers keeping an eye on the smoke from that brush fire in Collier County. The heavy smoke from the brush fire in Naples caused the highway to shutdown early Monday as well and FHP officials said they will shut it down again Wednesday, if necessary.

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