Brush fire off Alligator Alley grows to 1,000 acres

Video from NBC-2

A brush fire off Alligator Alley in the Florida Panther National Wildlife Refuge has grown to an estimated 1,000 acres, according to Florida Forest Service spokesman Victor Hill.

The fire, north of the interstate around mile-marker 90, is currently 30 percent contained and fire crews will try to prevent it from moving east, Hill said.

Hill said crews are working to get it contained before midday, when humidity will drop and could feed the flames.

“The key will be the afternoon,” Hill said.

The brush fire to the south is 100 percent contained but crews are keeping an eye on it to make sure it doesn’t flare up.

POSTED EARLIER

Alligator Alley is back open after being shutdown for over an hour because a brush fire jumped the fence line and got close to the road.

According to the Florida Highway Patrol, the fire around mile-marker 90 spread in the night and the interstate had to be shutdown for more than an hour.

The interstate reopened just after 4 a.m.

The 500-plus acre fire continues to burn and smoke is in the area. FHP is monitoring the situation and warn motorists to use caution.

POSTED EARLIER

Florida Highway Patrol troopers watched as Wednesday afternoon fires in Picayune Strand Forest and the Florida Panther National Wildlife Refuge burned on both sides of Alligator Alley.

But smoke from the two fires stayed far enough away that lanes of Interstate 75 remained open even as one fire grew to 500 acres.

Dry conditions and a lightning strike nearly three weeks ago in the state forest caused a flare-up that set a northeast section of the forest on fire around 3:30 p.m., said Florida Forest Service spokesman Victor Hill. By 6:30 p.m., embers from the fire had crossed the interstate and started another fire on the north side of the interstate on the panther refuge property.

As of late Wednesday, the second fire remained at 500 acres and had been 25 percent contained.

The first fire was contained by 8 p.m. at 30 acres.

In other fire news:

A fire that started Tuesday afternoon in North Naples was intentionally set by an unknown person, according to the Florida Forest Service.

Spokesman Victor Hill said fire officials had also measured the fire as 30 acres, not the 25 acres the agency had reported Tuesday. Investigators did not release information Wednesday on exactly how the fire started.

The fire began on a private property near the Imperial Golf Estates and Mediterra communities, causing firefighters to call for a voluntary evacuation of about 20 homes.

A fire started on an empty lot on Marco Island around 1 p.m. Wednesday, spreading to nearby pine trees and endangering three houses, according to Marco Island fire Batallion Chief Jeff Kutzke.

Firefighters put the fire out in about a half-hour, and no houses were damaged, he said.

That fire's cause has not yet been determined.

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