OCHOPEE — Expect hazy skies and smoky conditions today from the massive Big Cypress National Preserve brush fire north of U.S. 41 East in rural, eastern Collier County.
Smoke from the long-burning fire will blow toward the Naples area this morning before onshore winds provide an afternoon sea breeze, according to NBC2 meteorologist Robert Van Winkle. The brush fire grew to 36,350 acres Tuesday and was 70 percent contained by Tuesday night.
A section of U.S. 41 East was closed after 8 a.m. Wednesday between Loop Road and the Oasis Visitor Center at Big Cypress National Preserve, near the Dade Collier Training and Transition Airport.
As of 9:25 a.m., Florida Highway Patrol is closing U.S. 41 from State Road 29 east to County Road 997 in Miami-Dade County because of fog and heavy smoke.
"We, of course, hope that the smoke dissipates within the next hour or so," Big Cypress spokesman Bob DeGross said.