Firefighters in Polk County say heavy fog played a part in preventing them from saving a burning home early Monday morning. The fire broke out at a home on Columbus Landing in Delano.
A grill and burgundy Subaru is pretty much all that's left outside of Joe McClarey's home. Thankfully, he wasn't home when the fire happened.
"His house was already burned completely to the ground before we even saw it," says neighbor Bernadine Reed.
Reed says heavy fog Monday morning blocked her view from noticing the home was on fire.
"There was actually debris coming out of the sky and it caught my attention before the smoke did," says Reed.
Firefighters say the home was already destroyed and had been burning nearly an hour before they got there. Chief Lofty believes they might have been able to save the home, except for the heavy fog in the area.
"The fog had obscured people's ability to see this fire, the actual smoke going up because this would have generated a lot of smoke," says West Polk Fire chief Steven Lofty.
Chief Lofty says every year around this time, the fog in that area gets worse - making it tough for them to spot fires.
"The fog in this area sometimes will become so thick that your visibility is down to 10-15 feet. It's literally that bad," says Chief Lofty.
Lofty says Monday morning's fog was the worse he's seen since the massive pile up on Interstate 75 in McMinn County in 1990. 99 cars were involved, 12 people died, and over 40 people were injured after heavy fog was visible on the highway.
Chief Lofty says his firefighters are extra careful when driving in fog.
"Our drivers on the emergency vehicles are aware of the fact that they've got to proceed with extreme caution. A lot of the times turning the lights on the vehicles on isn't an option because the lighting on the vehicles obscures your abilities to see in the fog banks," says Chief Lofty.
Firefighters aren't yet sure what caused the fire. Chief Lofty says they're always extra careful when driving and working in foggy weather.
By Jerry Askin