Huge fire sweeps across central Florida

By Agence France-Presse
Tuesday, March 1, 2011 16:19 EDT
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MIAMI – Firefighters were battling a fast-moving, massive blaze and clouds of thick smoke that prompted evacuations and highway closures in central Florida, though tempered in part by heavy downpours.

The fire, which began on Monday, spread quickly. By dawn on Tuesday, it had swept over an area of more than 10,000 acres (4,000 hectares), forcing hard-hit Brevard County to declare a state of emergency.

Schools were closed, many homes were evacuated and other residents were asked to take precautions and be prepared to deal with the effects of smoke for several days to come.

“We are advising people to use extreme caution,” said Cliff Frazier, spokesman for the Florida Division of Forestry.

Emergency response officials did not report any injuries so far.

Strong winds spread the fire and smoke from Brevard County, east of Orlando, to Volusia County in the north, where the local emergency personnel said about 20 homes were evacuated in Scottsmoor.

The flames shut down close to 30 miles (45 kilometers) of the I-95, a major interstate highway that runs through Florida, from late Monday to early Tuesday, snarling traffic for tens of thousands of commuters.

But heavy rainfall helped improve visibility and facilitated efforts by firefighters.

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  • Anonymous

    True, it’s a big fire, but the headline is a bit of an exaggeration. Central Florida is about 10,000 square miles. The fire is in a largely unpopulated area South of Daytona Beach, North of Cape Canaveral, and a few miles inland. It burned first South to North, and now North to South. As of today, it had covered about 16,000 Acres, or about 25 square miles. Fires like this one are a part of the natural process, and the firefighters are prone to concentrate on keeping them from destroying structures but otherwise let them burn away the fuel that accumulates in the woods. The trees usually survive. Last I heard, there was one firefighter who had been badly burned.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_PCHLMPBJKYTW3LJBHZEZMO3TXQ What Ever

    Thousands of pink plastic flamingos melt down, state cultural icon lost. Oh the horror, the horror!