At Least 20 Wildfires Burn Across Central Florida

April 10, 2012
With drought conditions worsening across Central Florida -- and no rain in sight -- fire departments are coordinating efforts to try to keep wildfires in check.

April 10--With drought conditions worsening across Central Florida -- and no rain in sight -- fire departments are coordinating efforts to try to keep wildfires in check.

At least 20 wildfires are burning in Central Florida, and three of them are more than 100 acres in size.

Statewide, 64 fires -- 12 of them more than 100 acres -- were active Monday, having burned more than 4,300 acres.

A brush fire near Groveland has grown to about 60 acres and is only about 50-percent contained, said Florida Forest Service spokesman Don Ruths. It is north of State Road 50, near Timber Lake Village.

Crews have plowed fire lines to keep it from reaching a nearby swamp where it likely would have become a muck fire and could have burned for weeks, he said.

Ruths said crews from his agency were working side-by-side with units from the Lake County Fire Department Monday.

The cooperation between the two agencies is part of an aggressive program that has been in place for four years now, Ruths said.

Lake was the second county in the state to adopt a Community Wildfire Protection Plan, where all fire agencies plan and train together for a coordinated effort in battling wildfires.

Volusia County also has adopted a plan.

A 50-acre fire in northern Lake, which at one time threatened some homes, "is pretty much taken care of," Ruths said.

Volusia County has two active fires that are more than 100 acres and at least 18 smaller.

The largest, off Ranchette Road, south of State Road 44, between DeLand and New Smyrna Beach, is fully contained after growing to 140 acres. Firefighters are monitoring that fire and most of the smaller ones and are mopping up fires near Ormond Beach and west of New Smyrna Beach, Volusia County Fire Services spokeswoman Pat Kuehn said.

The other large fire, which is slightly more than 100 acres, is in New Smyrna Beach.

Daytona Beach firefighters quickly extinguished a fire Sunday in the area of N. Williamson Boulevard and the Indigo Golf Course, fire Lt. Larry R. Stoney Jr. said.

The burn pattern shows it started near the edge of the roadway. It's a pattern associated with improperly discarded cigarettes, Stoney said.

On Sunday, Daytona Beach Fire Department responded to the area near North Williamson Boulevard and the Indigo Golf Course for a reported brush fire.

Fire crews from Daytona Beach were able to extinguish that fire quickly without any evacuations to the neighboring golf community. The northbound lanes of Williamson Boulevard were shut down during operations while a water supply was established.

The largest wildfire burning in Central Florida is in a remote area of east Orange County.

It is more than 300 acres but is fully contained, said Cliff Frazier of the Florida Forest Service.

There are four other small fires burning in Orange and two in Seminole, but all are 100-percent contained, he said.

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Copyright 2012 - The Orlando Sentinel, Fla.

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