Florida fires closing highways

VOLUSIA COUNTY, FLORIDA — A large wildfire in Volusia County is putting up a lot of smoke, according to the Florida Highway Patrol, which cautioned drivers to exercise caution. A fire in the Tiger Bay State Forest, according to ClickOrlando.com news, is burning along Interstate 4 north of State Road 44 near DeLand. The Florida Forest Service said the fire had burned about 70 acres and was 60 percent contained.

A Florida Department of Transportation highway camera earlier today showed thick dark smoke from the fire, not far from I-4. State troopers issued a travel advisory because of the smoke for motorists in the area both for I-4 and for International Speedway Boulevard.

A 400-acre fire in Marion County, according to WCJB news, also closed roads. Florida Forest Service firefighters were dispatched to an escaped blaze near Gooski Prairie on Friday afternoon. Sheriff’s deputies said parts of County Road 316, from Northeast 175th Street to Fort McCoy, have been re-opened after a closure resulting from the fire and smoke.

Florida Forest Service officials said the fire was at 75 percent containment by 3:30 p.m. By 7 p.m., though, the winds had picked up and carried the fire from 200 acres to twice that size.

The fire started as a controlled burn ignited by a private landowner on Thursday afternoon.

WINK News reported yesterday that firefighters were working on several brush fires across southwest Florida pushed by high winds, including one in Collier County that the Florida Forest Service reported at 300 acres with about 25 percent containment. The Collier County Sheriff’s Office ordered evacuations, but they were soon lifted. The Greater Naples Fire Chief said three homes were burned and more were threatened.

ClickOrlando.com reported that temperatures are expected to climb into the upper 80s over the weekend before cooling down as a weak cold front moves closer to the region, but chances of rain are estimated at just 20 percent.