Florida Wildfires Continue to Rage With the Weather Bringing Relief to Some
Sunday morning, Florida Governor Rick Scott received a briefing on the continued wildfires burning in the state.
Governor Scott who declared a state of emergency on April 11th said, “Firefighters and first responders from all across the state have been fighting the wildfires in Southwest Florida day and night, and we are all incredibly grateful for their hard work. I ask that if you know or see any firefighters and first responders in your communities that you take the time to thank them for bravely protecting our state. The rain we were blessed with yesterday has provided a big relief and helped ensure evacuation orders were lifted. While we are hopeful that the weather will continue to provide relief, we know these fires can change at a moment’s notice due to wind and rain, and it is important that we remain alert and prepared. While there are currently no unmet needs, we will continue to monitor the ongoing fires across Florida and keep working with our federal, state and local partners to ensure we keep Florida safe.”
Where there is fire, there is ultimately smoke and smoke does not mix well with safe driving. Unforeseen changes in weather might create conditions where visibility on roadways is seriously impaired. Under these conditions drivers need to be cautious. The best decision is not to drive in fog or smoke.
If you must drive under these conditions, there are actions that every driver should take to protect themselves and their passengers:
- Slow down
- Use windshield wipers in heavy fog
- Turn on your low-beam headlights
Naples Wildfire / 30th Ave. Fire
Firefighters worked to strengthen containment lines overnight on Sunday and saw great success as recent rains helped turn the tide in the favor of suppression efforts. According to officials the Florida Forest Service and Greater Naples Fire Rescue command are confident in the progress made over the past 36 to 48 hours but know a lot of work remains. “Today’s winds will be a challenge,” said Kingman Schuldt, Greater Naples Fire Rescue Chief. “While the weekend rains gave fire crews an opportunity to establish and improve containment lines, today’s test might be the shift and increase in winds.” The fire is 7,035 acres and remains 50% contained. All evacuations orders have been lifted. There is a 5-mile temporary flight restriction, including drones, surrounding the 30th Ave. Fire. It is a third degree felony to fly a drone in any area that has firefighting air support on scene.
West Mims Fire
The lightning-caused West Mims fire was first reported on April 6th in the Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge area. According to officials Sunday, significant growth was confirmed by infra-red imagery showing the blaze growing to 46,413 acres. 435 personnel are fighting this fire with equipment resources including six helicopters, thirty nine wildland fire engines, nine dozers, 31 tractor plows, two interagency hot shot crews and one initial attack crew. High winds Sunday pushed the northwestern edge of the fire four miles north towards Stephen C. Foster State Park. With a 8-10 mph westerly winds predicted Sunday, the fire is expected to continue to burn actively on Fiddlers Island which is located on the western side of the refuge. Smoke could reach Jacksonville, FL Monday due to forecasted westerly winds and high transport winds.