Tallahassee, Florida, USA — Florida evacuated people from about 100 housesin the rural northern part of the state on Friday as windswept brush firesburned in the region.
Forestry officials said fires had burned nearly 83,000 acres (33,200 hectares)of swampland and a destroyed a few hunting huts north of Lake City, on thefringe of the Osceola National Forest. Smoke from the fire could be seen 100miles (160 km) west in the state capital of Tallahassee.
It was by far the largest of 223 brush fires burning in Florida, and began inGeorgia in the Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge six days ago. Heavy windspushed it south into Florida, where it burned a pair of simple hunting camps buthad not destroyed any homes.
“There is a lot of swampland and timberland up there. When it is as dryas it just gets going and creates its own weather,” said Ronda Sutphen,Florida Division of Forestry’s fire prevention officer.
Lightning started many of the fires in Florida, where the winter dry seasonwas the third-driest on record. Firefighters had hoped a subtropical storm offFlorida’s Atlantic coast would soak the state but it dissipated without bringingany significant rainfall.