PHOTOS: Wildfire consumes 90 acres at Big Cypress

Firefighters battled a 90-acre wildfire in Big Cypress National Preserve on Wednesday. Submitted by PJ Stevko

Photo by Submitted

Firefighters battled a 90-acre wildfire in Big Cypress National Preserve on Wednesday. Submitted by PJ Stevko

Big Cypress National Preserve

33100 U.S. 41 E, Ochopee, FL

Firefighters at Big Cypress National Preserve continue to inspect land near U.S 41 after containing a wildfire in the area late Wednesday.

The blaze, reported at 2:30 p.m., grew to a roughly 90 acres among prairie south of the highway before it was contained, reported Big Cypress aviation specialist Mike O'Leary. Firefighters from the preserve and other agencies left their lines at 8 p.m.

Smoke forced the closure of U.S. 41 for about an hour, O'Leary said. Officials believe a human cause, such as a cigarette, sparked the blaze.

The fire comes early for wildfire season, which traditionally sees heavier activity in February and March. O'Leary noted that the recent cold stretch killed some sawgrass in the area.

"It's still a little early," he said. "But we had a few of those frosts, so those fine fuels are a little more available than they would be."

Big Cypress received help from Everglades National Park, Florida Panther National Wildlife Refuge and the Ochopee Fire district. Collier County Sheriff's Office handled traffic along U.S. 41.

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