Florida Firefighters Hope Alberto's Rains Will Help Extinguish Fires

After weeks of battling brush fires, many residents across Central Florida are looking forward to the rain Tropical Storm Alberto is expected to bring.

Homeowners and firefighters in Brevard County said they're counting on Alberto to quench dry ground and give them some much-needed rest, WESH 2 News reported.

Firefighters in Brevard County have been working 12 to 18 hours overtime because of the stubborn wildfires.

"Only in Florida right now could you ever be thankful to see a tropical storm and thankful to get the rain. I know it will do some good," Brevard County Fire Dept. Lt. Tom Marsh said.

"I think the tropical storms we can deal with. I know they're severe, but it seems like we have a little more handle on them than we do the fires," resident Harry Norris said.

In Osceola County, firefighters and tourists alike were happy with the rain Alberto brought them after dealing with road closures throughout the weekend on a busy attraction strip of U.S. Highway 192 near Four Corners.

Tourists were stuck in their hotels and resort and store owners were struggled to keep the normal business from tourists alive. Resort saleswoman Brittany Wendell said she is happy that Alberto is here because she is sick and tired of the brush fires hurting sales.

"I dont want any more brush fires, they're everywhere now," Wendell said. "Everything is closing down and everybody's scared. A lot of people dont even want to come to Florida anymore."

Although the 250-acre brush fire didnt burn any structures, it did cause road closures and inconveniences for tourists and residents. Firefighters said the fire is considered contained and are confident that if Alberto continues to bring rain, it will be extinguished for good.

"It's very exciting for us because we know any additional moisture is going to help keep the fires from burning," Osceola County Fire Department Lt. John Knapp said.

At a news conference on Monday afternoon, Gov. Jeb Bush echoed Knapp's comments about the good that Alberto will bring to Florida.

"It's both for fires as well as strained natural resources that take place when you have droughts, so that will be helpful," Bush said. "We'd prefer it to be delivered more gently than this."

Florida officials were in the midst of hurricane planning when Alberto picked up speed and developed into a tropical storm, Bush said.

"We were doing our planning exercise today for this hurricane season and in the middle of it the tropical storm warnings were changed to hurricane warnings," he said. "Maybe next year we'll do these things in May."

Copyright 2006 by WESH.COM. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Loading