Hawthorne-area fire larger than previously thought


A flight over Levy Prairie in western Putnam County shows the Olive Fire. (Courtesy of Florida Forest Service)

Published: Monday, January 16, 2012 at 10:11 a.m.
Last Modified: Monday, January 16, 2012 at 10:42 p.m.

State officials said more accurate mapping now shows the fire near Hawthorne is larger than previously thought.

Florida Forest Service officials said the fire on the Levy Prairie in western Putnam County covers 850 acres, about 100 more acres than previously estimated.

Officials also said activity inside the fire's containment lines picked up over the weekend due to low humidity and increased winds.



“We had increased activity over the weekend; more flames and more smoke were visible,” said forestry spokeswoman Ludie Bond.

She said the increase in flames was the result of recent hard freezes that created more dried fuel for the fire to consume. The increase in wind produced more smoke associated with the long-smoldering fire.

The fire has been smoldering and flaring since about Thanksgiving, officials said.

Exacerbating the problem is that the fire is primarily feeding on muck — a thick layer of soil with dead vegetation. Bond said muck fires are among the most difficult fires to extinguish because they can extend underground and because they occur in places where fire equipment can become mired.

The best hope for putting out a muck fire is heavy rain, something the region has not had in many weeks.

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