LAKE COUNTY, Fla. --
Fire crews launched a new attack from the air Monday and said the new plan of attack is working.
The Florida Division of Forestry dropped fire balls from the sky Monday morning to try to keep a brush fire that once threatened Lake County homes under control (see images). The 1,000-acre fire along County Road 561 and State Road 50 was 80-percent contained by early Monday afternoon.
The Division of Forestry launched its chopper just after 10:00am Monday. Firefighters dropped small ping-pong like fire balls out of a helicopter, touching off several fires along State Road 50 near Clermont. The fire balls are packed full of chemicals that ignite when they hit the ground.
"He'll be dropping in this entire area," explained Don Ruths, Division of Forestry. "From one boundary to the second boundary and back again until we have the whole area coated."
The swampy area is the same spot where a 1,000-acre fire came dangerously close to more than a dozen homes Sunday along County Road 561.
Homeowners living on Lake Minnehaha said they did all they could as the flames kept moving closer to their homes (see images).
"We went out and got my little water hose and all that kind of stuff. Started wetting down the house and turned the sprinkler system on," said homeowner Davis Taylor.
No homes were in danger Monday morning and, by igniting the fires Monday under controlled circumstances, it reduces the probability of other fires later this year.
"Our biggest concern's going to be the shifting winds and smoke impact of State Road 50," Ruths said.
Police are on standby in case the winds shift towards any roads. Firefighters are also keeping a watch over the flames, making sure they don't come too close to a mobile home community just yards away from Monday's intentionally-set fires. Firefighters said the fires they started Monday morning will burn for several hours.
Officials said they believe an ATV may have sparked the initial fire.
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