USA — A brush fire, thought to have begun near Paso Fino Drive to the east of Henscratch Road, involved 70 acres by 4 p.m.
Melissa Yunas of the Division of Forestry told the News-Sun that a house had been destroyed in the fire. The Bert J. Harris Jr. Agricultural Center in Sebring was being opened as a shelter for those displaced by the fire, the Highlands County Emergency Operations Center, confirmed at 5 p.m.
High winds and tinder dry conditions mean the fire moved quickly, its smoke traveling low.
There is no report yet on how the fire started, and when it began has not been confirmed.
Highlands County Sheriff’s Office Sgt. Monica Sauls, guarding the Northern Boulevard access to the fire, said the it had originally been headed in a southerly direction, but the wind changed and pushed it north instead.
She said firefighters and deputies were able to release at least some horses and other farm animals in the way of the fire, helping them escape.
Sauls said units from West Sebring, Lorida and Sun ‘N Lake in Sebring were among the responders, as were the Forestry Service and the county.
A spotter plane was in use and tractors and heavy equipment were on their way assist.
Going on 5 p.m., the fire was still threatening the area south of Lake Josephine Drive and east of Henscratch. It is hoped a line of rain squalls moving in from the west will help contain the fire.