Fla. Firefighter Seriously Burned Battling Wildfire

MIMS, Fla. --A Brevard County firefighter suffered serious burns Tuesday while battling a growing wildfire that covers parts of Brevard and Volusia counties. The fire grew to 16,000 acres Tuesday afternoon, and officials said it is only 25 percent...


MIMS, Fla. --

A Brevard County firefighter suffered serious burns Tuesday while battling a growing wildfire that covers parts of Brevard and Volusia counties.

The fire grew to 16,000 acres Tuesday afternoon, and officials said it is only 25 percent contained. The majority of the blaze is burning in Brevard County and prompted officials to declare a state of emergency.

'Iron Horse' Battle Continues

type='node' cid='410541' /> MIMS, Fla. --

A Brevard County firefighter suffered serious burns Tuesday while battling a growing wildfire that covers parts of Brevard and Volusia counties.

The fire grew to 16,000 acres Tuesday afternoon, and officials said it is only 25 percent contained. The majority of the blaze is burning in Brevard County and prompted officials to declare a state of emergency.

'Iron Horse' Battle Continues

Witnesses said the injured firefighter used his hose to hit a very hot patch, and steam blew back into his face. Initial reports indicated he suffered second-degree burns and was transported by helicopter to Orlando Regional Medical Center.

Helicopters Join Firefighters To Battle Blaze

Parched land and gusty winds fanned the flames through the night as helicopters dropped water and more than 100 firefighters battled the blaze. Fifteen bulldozers worked in rough terrain to create fire breaks.

But at a news conference on Tuesday, officials said the fire was only partially contained, and shifting winds could move the fire southward into more populated areas and threaten as many as 300 homes.

The fire kept busy roads closed during the morning commute on Tuesday. Interstate 95 was closed for 21 miles. Authorities named U.S. Highway 1 as an alternate route, but that too had to be closed because of low visibility.

Many travelers were stuck and decided to just park until conditions improved.

Fire Jumps Interstate

"We were on I-95 northbound. We were able to get on an exit and thought we could get over to (U.S.) 1, but then it was closed too, so we're back at the freeway again," a motorist said.

"The smoke coming down here, you could see it for six or seven miles in the air. It looked like big clouds, and it's fire," a witness said.

Firefighters from the Florida Division of Forestry and Volusia County Fire Services urged residents and visitors to avoid driving in smoke if possible. Firefighters said that if drivers encountered smoke while driving, they should slow down, turn on their low-beam lights and pull away off the pavement, stop and turn on the car's emergency flashers.

RV Park Evacuated Ahead Of Flames

As the heavy smoke and flames surrounded Crystal Lake RV Park in Brevard County, people staying there could only watch and worry.

"I was up at the beach. They called and said to get down here as quick as you can because they were evacuating everything," Tom Campbell said.

Voluntary Evacuations

Officials at Brevard County Public Schools said Pinewood Elementary in Mims would be closed Tuesday because of the wildfire. Bus transportation for students north of state Road 46 would not be available because of safety concerns and road closures. All other schools in Brevard County are operating normally.

The fire ignited near Oak Hill in Volusia County on Monday. Winds pushed the blaze to the northeast, but weather officials expected winds to shift and may push the fire southward later on Tuesday.

Late Monday, emergency officials called for a voluntary evacuation of residents living in the area bordered by county Road 5A on the north, S.R. 46 on the south, U.S. 1 on the east and the St. Johns River on the west.

Officials said those who live within those borders are encouraged to stay with friends or family outside the area threatened by the brush fire.

A shelter was opened at the Cuyler Community Center at 2329 Harry T. Moore Ave. in Mims.

Firefighters from Brevard County, Division of Forestry, Edgewater and Volusia County were working to contain the blaze.

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