USA – A brush fire burning in the Florida Everglades exploded in size as it burned for the second day straight south of I-75 on Tuesday. Smoke drifting from the fire continues to spread across southern Florida and will bring hazy conditions which will threaten to bring poor air quality and low visibility for motorists at times again on Wednesday.
The Sawgrass Fire grew from 18,500 acres to 32,000 acres Monday night amid hot and dry conditions. As of Wednesday night, the fire was 42,000 acres and 75% contained.
The past week has been unusually warm in South Florida, and it has been mainly rain-free across the region, according to AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Paul Walker. The conditions likely aided in the rapid spread of the fire, he added.
For some Florida cities, the heat is going down in the record books for the month as well. This has been the third-hottest June on record for Miami, according to the Southeast Regional Climate Center. Temperatures in the city have soared above normal 21 days so far this month. An all-time June high temperature of 98 F was recorded on Monday.
The fire ignited around 6:30 p.m. EDT Sunday night, and by Monday morning, the fire had grown to 10,000 acres. The fire was likely caused by a lightning strike, according to a statement from the Florida Forest Service.
At least three other fires were started by lightning across Florida on Sunday, according to the Florida Forest Service.
According to Walker, lightning is a common spark for wildfires in the United States.
“The energy from the lightning evaporates the moisture heating the object up, and this can lead to combustion of the object of the strike. Lightning strikes can be five times hotter than the sun,” Walker said.
On Monday, northeasterly winds pushed ash and smoke into southwestern Broward County. Fire officials said, “Residents with breathing complications should take appropriate measures.
The wildfire smoke was likely visible across Broward and Palm Beach counties on Tuesday, according to the National Weather Service (NWS) office in Miami. Weather officials urge residents to practice wildfire smoke safety tips like keeping doors and windows closed.