Friday, March 4, 2011

Wildfire expands in the Everglades near West Miami-Dade

A raging wildfire was expanding at the edge of the Everglades and West Miami-Dade Friday morning.
At about 6 a.m., the flames were extending west of Krome Avenue near Southwest Eighth Street. Smoke reduced visibility along sections of Tamiami Trail.
The fire could be seen from the Miccosukee Resort and Convention Center on Krome Avenue. Gusty conditions -- with east winds at 18 to 23 knots with gusts to around 35 knots -- were fueling the fire. According to forestry officials, at least 50 acres had been damaged by 6:30 a.m., WSVN-7 reported.
Firefighters have been battling wildfires in Brevard and Volusia counties this week. According to forestry officials about 16,715 acres have been damaged in Brevard and Volusia, Florida Today reported.
Meteorologist Robert Molleda said earlier this week that this fire season "could shape up to be a pretty bad" one.
A key index watched closely by the Florida Division of Forestry — soil moisture — has swung into the red danger zone across much of the landscape south of Lake Okeechobee, including the Everglades. A broader assessment that gauges humidity levels and fuel conditions ranked Broward County as the only county in the state at a “very high’’ risk for wildfire.
Fire season in Florida typically heats up in March and April, the last two months of the dry season. But an ongoing drought, which grew worse in February, has driven up the risk factors.
The National Weather Service recorded less than one-tenth of an inch of rain for the entire month in Miami-Dade and Broward. The South Florida Water Management District reported that average rainfall amounted to a third of an inch across a region stretching from south of Orlando to Key West.
Another factor heightens concerns. Freezes back in December killed or damaged cold-sensitive native plants that provide fire plenty of tinder, said Scott Peterich, wildfire mitigation specialist for the Everglades district of the forestry division.
“There are a lot of dead palm fronds out there to burn,’’ he said.

Wildfire expands in the Everglades near West Miami-Dade - Miami-Dade Breaking News -

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