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Florida Wildfires Force Evacuations, Threatens Homes

7 Apr 2017, 8:03 pm

Abnormally dry conditions have led to extreme fire danger across the state of Florida and thousands of acres have ignited into flames.

Fire crews across the state have been battling fires over the last few days, one of which is the Gandy Brush Fire.

Motorist will want to avoid a section of I-275 and Gandy Boulevard Friday night– near St. Petersburg, FL. Traffic was shut down in all directions Friday afternoon as officials battled the blaze. Roughly 30 people from the Village Green mobile park have been evacuated. By late Friday evening, officials say the fire was under control.

Further south into Broward County, a large brush fire threatens a popular fishing camp in Pembroke Pines. The fire has grown to cover over 5,000 acres by late Friday evening. Officials say the fire is about 45 percent contained.

Another brush fire has grown close to 500 acres near Disney World in Orlando, FL Friday afternoon. This fire smoked out parts of I-Drive for several hours Friday afternoon.  Officials say the fire was 55 percent contained Friday evening. No injuries were reported from the Orlando fire.

Several fires across the state have grown exponentially due to dry air and gusty winds. The National Weather Service has issued a Red Flag Warning on Saturday for similar conditions. Fire danger will be very high and any fire that ignites will have the potential to grow out of control quickly.

Florida has recently observed very little rainfall compared to average. Orlando only received 3.03 inches of rain since the start of the new year, 6.20 inches short of average. Many other cities such as Tampa and Fort Myers are in a rain deficit by as much as 5 inches since Jan. 1. A severe drought encompasses much of south central Florida where a number of fires have been reported.

Dry air will remain in place through Saturday with dew points in the 20s. This will lead to continued drying of surface fuels which will exacerbate the fire threat. It appears much of Florida will continue to be rain-free through next Tuesday. The high fire danger continues for the foreseeable future.

For WeatherNation: Nick Merianos

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