The Huckabee Fire 26 miles east of Naples, Florida continued to require intermittent closures of Interstate 75 overnight due to smoke and fog, but it reopened Monday morning. Burning in Big Cypress National Preserve, the fire has blackened 20,000 acres and is 40% contained, according to Cass Palmer, the Incident Commander of a Type 3 incident management team running the fire.
On Sunday firefighters conducted a 4,000-acre burnout which reduced the visibility on the Interstate and required a temporary closure. A minor accident on the highway was managed as an incident within an incident by the Florida Highway Patrol.
Firefighters have observed the fire spreading at 80 to 100 chains per hour (5,280 to 6,600 feet per hour) and spot fires up to 600 feet ahead. A large Type 1 helicopter and a Hotshot crew arrived at the fire Sunday.
According to the Incident Status Summary, the Incident Commander expects to fully contain the fire on Monday, April 1.
(Originally published at 9:29 p.m. ET, March 31, 2013)
A wildfire in Big Cypress National Preserve has forced the closure of Interstate 75 in Alligator Alley. As of 1 p.m. ET the Huckabee Fire 26 miles east of Naples, Florida had burned 16,000 acres since it started 48 hours earlier. The fire is 10 percent contained and the cause is described as suspicious by the staff of the Preserve.
I checked the weather at the Panther East automatic weather station 2.5 miles northwest of the fire and the conditions have not been extreme. The temperature on Sunday ranged from an overnight low of 47° to a high of 86°. The minimum relative humidity on Sunday was 37 percent, which is a little low for south Florida. The wind has been 8 mph out of the southwest with gusts to 15.
This is a time-lapse video (spanning over 2 hours) of a dormant season prescribed fire in a mixed longleaf pine / slash pine flatwoods stand in the University of Florida Austin Cary Forest near Gainesville, Florida. This particular stand within the forest is burned on an annual basis during the months of January and February to demonstrate the influence of burn season on vegetative composition, fuel characteristics, and fire behavior. The burn was conducted in January 2013 by Austin Cary Forest Staff along with University of Florida faculty, staff, and students from the 2013 Fire Ecology and Management class.
On Tuesday WESH Chopper 2 was streaming live video of a vegetation fire in Port Orange, Florida, near Daytona Beach (map). The fire was in a strip of trees between a lake and a subdivision. Adjacent to the vegetation were numerous cul-de-sacs, and parked in each one were at least two fire engines, usually a brush engine and a large structure engine. These images are screen grabs from the live video.
Areas of Texas and Florida are under Red Flag Warnings and Fire Weather Watches today. In Texas the Red Flag Warning is in effect until 8 p.m. on Tuesday due to windy and dry conditions. In Florida the Red Flag Warnings are valid until 6 p.m. for St. Johns, Putnam, Flagler, and Marion counties, and until 7 p.m. in Polk County
The map above was current as of 2:50 p.m. ET on Tuesday. Red Flag Warnings can change throughout the day as the National Weather Service offices around the country update and revise their forecasts. For the most current data, visit this NWS site.
The National Weather Service has issued a Red Flag Warning for dry and windy conditions between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. MT today in the Guadalupe and Davis mountains, Van Horn, Highway 54 corridor, Reeves County, Upper Trans Pecos, Stockton Plateau, and Terrell County. The NWS forecast predicts the winds will be 20 to 30 mph with the relative humidity between 5 and 10 percent.
There is also a Red Flag Warning for an area in the Florida panhandle between Pensacola and Tallahassee until 6 p.m. CST today for a relative humidity below 35 percent and an Energy Release Component at or above 20.
In case there is a fire:
The U.S. Forest Service does not have any large air tankers on exclusive use contracts at the present time. They issued a solicitation for “next generation” air tankers 15 months ago, but no contracts have been awarded. The contracts for the existing Korean War vintage air tankers, and Neptune’s new-ish BAe-146s, expired in 2012. Usually air tankers come on duty in Alamorgordo, New Mexico in mid-February and in Boise in late February.
The map above was current as of 12:10 p.m. MT on Monday. Red Flag Warnings can change throughout the day as the dozens of National Weather Service offices around the country update and revise their forecasts. For the most current data, visit this NWS site.
This five-minute film features a lightning-ignited wildfire and the endangered Cape Sable Seaside Sparrow in Everglades National Park. These last, remaining sparrow populations increase the complexity of fire management in the Everglades.
The video was produced by Jennifer Brown of Into Nature Films. If her name sounds familiar it may be because we embedded one of her other films that she produced for Everglades NP when she was working there under a short-term appointment. That video, River of Fire, is excellent. It’s a shame that the National Park Service could not figure out a way to retain an employee with such unique and valuable skills. But she is still available as a contractor.