Florida Brush Fire Grows to 900 Acres; I-95 Remains Closed

A portion of Interstate 95 remains closed on Tuesday after a fast-moving brush fire in Volusia County.

Some residents in the Edgewater area were evacuated from their homes Monday afternoon, WESH 2 News reported.

Fire officials said Tuesday's rain is good news, but they don't anticipate getting enough rain to put out the fire.

Florida Highway Patrol officers said I-95 is still closed northbound from state Road 442 in Edgewater to 44 in New Smyrna Beach. I-95 is also closed southbound from state Road 421 in Port Orange to 442 in Edgewater.

Fire officials cautioned motorists to expect smoke and fog on roads in the area Tuesday morning, and advised drivers to avoid the area or plan extra time to get to their destinations.

FHP spokeswoman Kim Miller said troopers will evaluate driving conditions on the interstate after firefighters finish mopping up around 3 p.m. She cautioned that even if the smoke dissipates and visibility improves, the danger of burned trees falling could keep the roadway closed.

State officials said Tuesday morning they would send in reinforcements, including several tankers and fire engines to help contain the brush fire. The evacuees were allowed to return to their homes late Monday night, and no homes have been damaged.

The brush fire jumped I-95 Monday afternoon. It spread quickly east and threatened several subdivisions in Edgewater. The blaze has consumed 900 acres, and at one point, 10 homes were in serious danger in Tiffany Estates. When the evacuation order was issued, residents raced to get out.

"When we heard on Channel 2 to evacuate, we started packing this up and the car behind us and we're on our way out," a resident said.

"We're told we had to get home and get our dog. I was worried about her," another resident said.

"It looks like it's coming fast, so I just threw everything in the car that I could gather and just jumped in," another resident said.

The evacuees were allowed back to their homes as the night progressed and the wind shifted. About 11 chose to stay at a local YMCA that was opened as a shelter, and they were given a spaghetti dinner.

Investigators are working to determine if the fires were intentionally set. A representative from the Division of Forestry said to have three brush fires in the same general area where there has been no lightning makes them very suspicious that an arsonist may be on the loose.

Division of Forestry spokesman Timber Weller said that trees knocked down by the hurricanes have provided great fuel for the fire.

Tractor crews spent Monday digging lines around the fire west of I-95. They continued to work through the night and on Tuesday began widening the lines around the fire. Even with all their efforts, fire officials said the blaze still could not be considered contained.

The fire started near Opossum Camp Road at 2:45 p.m. County officials said it traveled northeast and jumped I-95 at 5 p.m. DOF already has about 100 firefighters in the area. They were called in to work Pioneer Trail fire last week.

Weller said the firefighters were to be sent home Tuesday, but if this new fire requires them to stay longer they will do so.

Firefighters from Volusia County, Brevard County and the cities of Edgewater, New Smyrna Beach, Port Orange, Daytona Beach, Ormond Beach, DeLand, Orange City and Deltona are also on the scene.

Edgewater has opened a citizens information line. Residents may call 386-424-2400 for updated information.

Residents can also call Volusia County's fire hotlines at 386-424-2113 and 386-242-2114.

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