Brush Fires Continue To Pop Up In Florida

Three more brush fires ignited Monday, keeping firefighters very busy. Forest officials said the threat of brush fires will only increase in the weeks to come, because we are not even in the lightning season yet.

One of Monday's fires, near Curry Ford and Econ Trail in Orange County, consumed about a half dozen acres in just about two hours. While no homes were threatened, several neighborhoods were close enough to make firefighters nervous.

The flames from the noon-hour fire leaped 30-40 feet into a sky. Dry brush went up in smoke within minutes after the fire was spotted.

"It started off real small, but within 10-15 minutes it grew pretty quick," said Matt Watermolen, who called 9-1-1.

Orange County firefighters have been some of the busiest in the last week. They haven't lost a home or a person yet. They did though lose a fire truck over the weekend, burned out after getting stuck in the woods near Avalon Park.

So far, more than 50 percent of the fires have been started by human hands. Forestry officials said things will only get worse in coming weeks because of lightning.

According to the Division of Forestry, the number of fires year to date is actually down from 2005. There have been 36 fires in the Orlando area, down from 52 this time last year. But the same time period in 1998 logged just 20 fires and '98 is considered the mother of all brushfire seasons.

Conditions now are not nearly as bad as in 1998, but experts said any brushfire season can turn into a very bad one. But, since the 98 brushfire season, fire departments have taken great steps to improve their odds against blazes.

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 This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.