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COLLIER COUNTY — UPDATE
Crews continued to monitor a brush fire at Big Cypress National Preserve on Monday afternoon after thick smoke caused road closures along Alligator Alley earlier in the day.
Severe weather expected this evening could help or hurt their efforts to contain the nearly 20,000-acre fire, said Ryan Stubblebine, a preserve spokesman.
"Lightning definitely doesn't help but rain certainly does help," he said. "It depends on the longevity of the rain. Just a quick sprinkling won't do much for us."
Stubblebine said the fire was still 40 percent contained as of a noon meeting and was not expected to grow by much. About 45 personnel were at the scene, with a few more expected to trickle in over the next day or two, he said.
A hotshot crew from Virginia, specializing in wildfire suppression, reported to Southwest Florida as part of a federal program that has different agencies lend aid.
Stubblebine said the majority of crews were from Southwest Florida.
The cause of the fire remains under investigation.
All lanes of Interstate 75 on Alligator Alley and State Road 29 in Collier County are now open.
Brush fire: FHP closes I-75 Alley and SR 29 because of smoke, fog early Monday
The Florida Highway Patrol closed more than 75 miles of the Alligator Alley section of Interstate 75 and State Road 29 in Collier County early Monday because of severely reduced visibility from fog and smoke from a brush fire in Big Cypress National Preserve.
Closed are I-75's Alley section between mile marker 101 in Collier County and mile marker 23 at U.S. 27 in Broward County, and SR 29 between Oil Well Road on the north end and U.S. 41 East on the south end, the FHP reports.
The FHP announced the closure of the interstate and part of State Road 29 about 3:30 p.m. Monday, and announced the closing of the northern section of 29 just after 4 a.m.
As of Sunday afternoon, the brush fire in the Big Cypress National Preserve had grown to 20,000 acres, but it is 40 percent contained, said Ryan Stubblebine, a spokesman for Big Cypress National Preserve. Additional personnel and a hotshot crew from Virginia were fighting the fire located near Alligator Alley, he said.
The start of the fire has been labeled suspicious and is under investigation, Stubblebine said.
It was a bad weekend for local wildfires. Three separate brush fires smoked out eastern Collier County residents on Saturday.
Check back to Naples News for any road closures and news on the brush fire.