Wildfires in Florida: 22 April 1999

Wildfires in Florida

22 April 1999

The Everglades fire, the largest of dozens in the state, blazed for a fifth day is contained, but not under control. Most of the flames were defeated on Wednesday, but the fire was not out yet.

Despite the fact that the fire remains under control, thick, wind-blown smoke cut visibility and forced the officials to close again Alligator Alley, Floridas main east-west highway corridor across the state, on early Wednesday morning. Florida Highway Patrol officials will meet with state foresters to evaluate the traffic situation.

Florida wildfires burning since last weekend have so far burned 170,000 acres (68,000 hectares) in the Everglades fire. The Everglades blaze is mostly burning sawgrass.

The large fire came under control due to the work of the firefighters setting backfires — fighting fire with fire — and letting it burn out. Although the fires seem to be under control, there is still a high fire danger from wildfires in Florida.

Regarding the National Weather Service there is still no relief from South Florida’s dry weather. Lower humidities, and higher winds will again prevail. Drought conditions remained severe for the area of central and south Florida. The 10-day projections are also predicting the weather to stay dry. High pressure was forecast to keep the Southeast under cloudy — yet dry — skies, as the nations weather report stated. There is a chance of rain and afternoon thunderstorms over Florida.

The primary fire began in the eastern Everglades late last week possibly ignited by a vehicle’s catalytic converter. The cause was still being investigated, however 35 percent of the fires might have been started by arsonists. A special arson investigation team started its investigation process.

The Everglades blaze had the effect, that for the moment no permissions will be issued for land-clearing fires and controlled burning of wooded areas. Campfires in state forests are also not allowed.

Fire is a natural occurrence in the Everglades. The fire in the Everglades are part of a natural cycle that forestry officials say will actually help to renew the ecosystem. The fire is burning accumulated dry brush and recycling nutrients. Biologists hold the opinion that the fires will have no long-term negative impact on wildlife. Of course few animals were killed, but they normal adapt at surviving dry-season fires.

For further top news stories regarding the fires in Florida, please also refer to following site:

OSEI provided the newest satallite images with the NOAA AVHRR Sensor on 21 April 1999.

clcik here to enlarge (156 KB)             click here to enlarge (619 KB)

Fig.1. and 2. NOAA images of vegetation fires in Florida on 20 April 1999
(Source: NOAA http://www.osei.noaa.gov/)

In Fig.1. are heat signatures (red) and the burn scar (dark area) from fires in the Everglades of southern Florida. Note the dark red area in the northwest portion of the burn scar. This indicates that fires or smoldering ground are present in this area. At the time of this image, news reports indicated that those fire areas were under control. Also Fig. 2. shows heat signatures (red spots) from areas of fire burning in Florida. Ground is still smoldering and some fires are still present in the Everglades but news reports indicate that fires in that region are under control at the time of this image. A plume of smoke (blue haze) is visible extending from a hot spot in the Florida Panhandle.

(For a complete 1999 Wildland Fire Season Outlook please visit the NIFC homepage http://www.nifc.gov/news/nfn.html)

The Florida Forest Protection Bureau reports for 20 April 1999, 26 Fires. The year-to-date statistic shows that 2,568 fires have scorched more than 230,877 acres (93,000 ha) in Florida. For a detailed report on the fire activities in Florida, refer to the last days Narrative Report on the Florida fire situation provided by the Florida Forest Protection Bureau.

The SOUTHERN AREA COORDINATION CENTER REPORT (20 April 1999) can be accessed at: http://state.vipnet.org/dof/firesitr.htm)

The INCIDENT MANAGEMENT SITUATION REPORT was updated on 21 April 1999, which can be accessed at: http://www.nifc.gov/news/sitreprt.html)
It´s content can summarized as follows:

Fire activity continues in Southern Area due to red flag conditions. Florida is seeing fire behavior similar to that experienced last year. The National Coordination Center processed orders for aircraft, six crews, equipment, and a Type I Overhead Team.

HICKORY ISLAND, Okefenokee NWR. This fire is burning near Folkston, GA. Inaccessible terrain and heavy fuels are contributing to control problems. Acreage change due to a typographical error.
OWL CREEK, National Forests in Florida. A Type I team (Melton) is assigned to this fire and the Cow House fire. Fire activity was stable yesterday with minimal movement. Very low humidities and moderate winds have hampered control efforts.
COW HOUSE, National Forests in Florida. A Type I team (Melton) is assigned to this and the Owl Creek fire. This fire is located approximately 20 miles south of Tallahassee. Interior islands and swamp fuels continued to burn yesterday. Extremely low humidities, high winds and drought conditions are contributing to suppression problems.
SINGECAT, National Forests in North Carolina. This fire is approximately 30 miles east of Asheville and is burning in steep, pine forest. Line construction and improvement continues. Helicopters assisted ground forces by dropping water on hot spots.
CYPRESS CREEK, National Forests in Florida. This fire is near Lake City, Florida. No other information available at this time.

A Red Flag warning is in effect for most areas in Florida this afternoon. The state will experience mostly sunny conditions with highs in the mid 80’s and southwest winds reaching 10 to 15 mph.
There is a Red Flag warning for most of South Carolina today. Expect sunny skies with high temperatures in the lower to mid 80’s. The mountains and coast will encounter temperatures in the 70’s.
Georgia will be partly sunny today and highs are expected to be in the 80’s.
North Carolina will be partly sunny with highs in the 70’s to lower 80’s. The far northeastern portion of the state will experience temperatures in the upper 60’s.
A Red Flag warning is in effect for the southern and eastern portions of New Mexico today, with a fire weather watch in effect for the rest of the state.
Conditions will be fair to partly cloudy and windy, with continued warm weather in the south. It will be cooler in the north, with a chance of showers and thunderstorms. Highs in the mountains and the north should reach the 50’s to lower 70’s, with 80’s expected elsewhere. The southern lowlands will reach highs in the mid 90’s.
Texas has a wind advisory in effect today for several portions of the state. Conditions will be mostly sunny to partly cloudy with a slight chance of thunderstorms in the late afternoon. Windy and warm conditions are expected with highs reaching the 80’s and 90’s.
A wind advisory is in effect today for portions of southeast Arizona. The rest of the state will experience mostly sunny and breezy conditions with highs reaching 60 in the mountain areas and the lowest deserts getting as high as 100 today.

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