Wildfire near Hawthorne flares up, creating lots of smoke

Published: Thursday, January 5, 2012 at 7:00 p.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, January 5, 2012 at 7:00 p.m.

The still smoldering Levy Prairie Fire in western Putnam County near Hawthorne has flared up again because of weather conditions, putting up a large column of smoke Thursday and possibly causing road closures this morning.

Florida Forest Service district spokeswoman Ludie Bond said the recent freeze dried out vegetation for easy burning, while the gusty winds fanned the flames on the southern end of the fire north of State Road 20.

"We had gusts reported up to 16 miles per hour in some areas, and with the two hard freezes, there was a lot of dead, dried fuel to burn," Bond said. "There were very impressive smoke plumes that could be seen from very far away."

Bond said it is possible that State Road 20 and County Road 315 near Interlachen may be closed at some point because of heavy smoke and fog.

Drivers planning to pass through the area can check the Florida Highway Patrol's website at www.flhsmv.gov/fhp and click on the live traffic report in the left column to learn of any road closures.

Bond said Thursday night that a west wind caused heavy smoke in Interlachen and Grandin.

Despite the flare-up, the fire is still contained within its lines in the Levy Prairie.

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