Massive Lake Co. Brush Fire Nearly Contained

Massive Lake Co. Brush Fire Nearly Contained

24 February 2009

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USA — The massive 1,000 acre brush fire is close to being contained.

The fire is burning near the intersection of County Road 561 and State Road 50.

On Monday, forestry workers used a helicopter to drop fire-starting devices on top of the brush fire. They hope by backburning they will burn off any extra fuel the fire could use to restart.

Firefighters said drivers in the area of County Road 561 and S.R. 50 should drive carefully because of smoke in the area for the next couple of days.

“We are always concerned about what we call ‘spotover,’ and that spotover can start the fire again and create a smoke problem that will have an impact on State Road 50,” said Don Ruths, with the Division of Forestry.

The fire started around noon Sunday, and quickly grew from 50 acres to 1,000 acres, including the controlled burns set by fire crews.

There were voluntary evacuations for some homes because of the fire.

“They did an excellent job of informing us,” said Dave Sheet, a homeowner whose family was forced to leave their home. “They did an excellent job of working the fire, protecting the parts that were necessary.”

However, power was cut to about 30 homes Sunday because of downed power poles.

Controlled burns like this may soon become much more frequent. Florida is dry, and Lake County is among the drier counties. Drought index numbers have reached almost desertlike conditions already this year, and with the traditional start of brushfire season fast approaching, officials said fires like this, as well as backburning fires, would be seen much more often.

“Those hard freezes that we had killed an awful lot of the light fuels, the grasses, and that’s where most of the fires are occuring, and that carries into the heavier stuff,” Ruths said. “So yes, we are going to have a very active spring fire season.”

Controlled Burn In Brevard

On the other side of State Road 50, another fire has burned 600 acres in Brevard County.

The Brevard fire is a controlled burn at Canaveral Marsh Conservation Area, in response to awildfire that sparked Saturday near the highway.

Officials with the St. Johns River Water Management District said they want to burn off the extra “fuel” before the fire from the weekend gets a chance to reignite.

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