Wet weather aids North Florida firefighters

Published: Monday, December 1, 2008 at 12:06 p.m.
Last Modified: Monday, December 1, 2008 at 12:06 p.m.

Sunday's rain helped control a brush fire that burned more than 300 acres along State Road 21 between Melrose and Hawthorne in western Putnam County late last week.

But Division of Forestry spokeswoman Ludie Bond said Monday morning the blaze, although contained, still is considered active.

"We continue to have rangers go out there and plow lines. It is a contained but active fire in the interior," Bond said. "The rain certainly did help, but the fire certainly is not out."

The fire, first spotted Friday at about 5 p.m., grew due to brisk winds and low humidity. It is located in an area where there are no homes but thick, dense swamp hammock.

Now that the rain has passed through, predictions call for cool, dry, sunny weather. Those conditions won't help firefighters with this fire and could increase the chance for other blazes to pop up, possibly due to lightning strikes as Sunday's storms moved across North Florida.

"Even though we got rain last night, itís a beautiful day, sunny, breezy. It won't be two or three days for it to dry out," Bond said about brush that could fuel a blaze.

Bond cautioned motorists driving in the area on SR 20, SR 26 and SR 21. Smoke from the fire could obscure those roadways in the morning and evenings for at least the next several days.

In addition to rangers going out to the fire, a DOF pilot will be monitoring it from the air as well as looking for other locations where fires could have started, Bond said.

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