Brush Fires Still Burning In Florida

While rain didn't extinguish the flames, it did help, at least temporarily.


A 6,500-acre brush fire is still smoldering in Port St. John in Brevard County.

Tuesday's wet weather gave firefighters a chance to make some headway, WESH 2 News reported.

Authorities reported that all brush fire activity is within the fire lines and that there is no threat to structures. Although the fires are within the fire lines, there is still significant threat for flare up.

The overall fire operation is considered to be 40 percent contained.

Road closures are in the following areas: Interstate 95 between state Road 50 and Fiske Boulevard; state Road 528 from U.S. 1 to SR 520; and SR 407 from SR 405 to SR 528, between 5 a.m. to 9 a.m. will continue to occur until further notice. Heavy smoke may be present on parts of I-95 between SR 50 and Fiske Boulevard and SR 528 from U.S. 1 to SR 520 and SR 407 from SR 405 to SR 528 throughout the day.

Motorists are asked to be cautious when driving in the identified areas.

One of the worst problems caused by the fire is a pocket of muck had been burning and smoking for almost two weeks now. It reduced visibility to zero on the nearby interstate. State crews had to pump water out of the ground to try to drown the fire, and they got a little help from some rain.

Yet even as the rain fell, the smoke still rose defiantly from the ground and from stumps in the woods.

Working right in one family's back yard, a brush-truck crew hosed down the already-soggy woods. The rain was not enough to put out fire, but it was enough to keep it from getting out of hand again for at least one day.

"It gives us a chance to really get in and improve our lines, put a lot of water along the edge to mop it up," said Wayne Jones of the Florida Division of Forestry.

"Thank God for rain. Bring it on. We'll take all we can get," said homeowner John Scott.

The rain did little to improve visibility on Interstate 95. Drivers carefully navigated through a smoky, foggy, and now-wet corridor during the Tuesday morning commute.

But on the fire lines, firefighters did not have to deal as much with active fire so they were able to improve their containment lines. They've now surrounded about 40 percent of the fires in Brevard County. It's been 13 days on the fire lines so far.

"The local resources here are very, very tired, especially the Brevard County Fire Department. They have been out here day after day," Jones said.

After taking a look at the fires, State Agriculture Commissioner Charles Bronson said the state is spending $6 million for more helicopters and more equipment. He said improved management is already helping.

"We have trained more incident command teams, which can handle big issues," Bronson said.

The Florida Highway Patrol has said I-95 and the Beachline will be closed in the area of the fires every morning until further notice. But if the pumping works, they are hoping that the "further notice" may come soon.

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