Brush Fire Consumes 850 Acres in Florida

Firefighters had hoped to have a major brush fire in Brevard County extinguished by Friday morning, but there were still some significant flare-ups as dawn neared.

One of the flare-ups was just behind the Veronica Estates subdivision in Port St. John, WESH 2 News reported.

The subdivision is just northeast of the Interstate 95 and state Road 528 interchange. Homeowners were up all night keeping a close eye on the fire as it neared their back yards.

Bright orange flames and thick smoke surrounded Veronica Estates throughout the night. Firefighters sprayed the roofs of several homes with water as they intentionally allowed the flames to burn right up to the yards. Officials said they wanted to allow the dry brush to be consumed by the fire now.

"These guys and ladies have been working diligently through the night to keep us safe -- keep our homes safe -- and we appreciate everything they're doing," homeowner Mary Dowty said.

The brush fire has burned over 850 acres since early Thursday evening. No structures have been damaged, and no evacuations have been ordered as of Friday morning, but it gave dozens of homeowners quite a scare.

"It jumped the canal," a homeowner said.

"Right, but the way the wind is blowing, it's blowing it off to the east, so you're going to be OK," a firefighter responded.

The brush fire prompted the Florida Highway Patrol to close a 3-mile section of I-95 for most of Thursday night after the flames jumped the highway and 35-mph winds complicated the situation by fanning the fire.

Fortunately, despite all the drama and potential danger, no lives or properties were lost.

Firefighters said many of the residents who live in properties along Grissom Parkway, including Veronica Estates, are not out of the woods Friday. Two factors being watched closely are the low dew point and strong winds.

The National Weather Service has issued a red-flag warning between 1 p.m. and 7 p.m. for all of Central Florida except Flagler, eastern Volusia and Brevard counties. The warning is issued when low relative humidity or a combination of low relative humidity and strong winds are occurring or forecast to occur during the next 24 hours.

People watching the flames creep closer tried to protect themselves by grabbing garden hoses to keep the fire away from a fence. Unfortunately, it didn't work. The fire turned a section of the fence into a heap of twisted metal.

A handicapped woman also tried to use a hose to fend off the flames that turned some nearby trees into kindling. She said she was worried about where she would go if they made her evacuate. Luckily, an evacuation was not deemed necessary by officials.

The fire started on the west side of I-95, but eastward blowing winds quickly pushed it across the highway. Most of the homes in the area are east of the highway. Fire officials said they were encouraged about battling the fire on the eastern edge because there is a lot less vegetation and more streets to provide natural firebreaks.

Firefighters said they think they are gaining an upper hand, but it still has not been fully contained. About 20 fire units are assisting the Division of Forestry with the fire battle, and officials do not expect to call in any extra units.

Helicopters dumped water on the fire Thursday, but those efforts were suspended after sunset.

Stay with WESH 2 News and WESH.com for more on this developing story.

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