West broward brush fire grows to more than 1,000 acres

06 April 2017

published by http://www.sun-sentinel.com

USA — A large brush fire in western Broward County has grown to more than 1,000 acres, but no structures are in imminent danger, according to officials with the Florida Forest Service.

“We spent the whole day focusing on structure protection,” said Scott Peterich, spokesperson for the service.

The fire was threatening the Everglades Holiday Park at 21940 Griffin Road, just west of U.S. 27., and that facility was closed to the public late Thursday morning.

Despite the protection work done throughout the day, the fire was still only 20 percent contained at 8 p.m..

Winds from the northwest are pushing the fire southeast, but the fire has stayed west of a levee that runs parallel to U.S. 27., from Alligator Alley to Krome Avenue, Peterich said.

On Thursday morning, the fire had grown to about 836 acres and was only about 20 percent contained, state forestry officials said.

Firefighting crews were out protecting mobile homes Thursday in the Holly Lake community. It’s where the fire was first reported at about 3 p.m. Wednesday, Peterich said.

The 50-acre fire eventually grew to 300 acres and then 600 acres near U.S. 27 and Pines Boulevard in Pembroke Pines. The fire has been moving north and growing.

“It’s sorta scary, I”ve been here since 1979 and it’s never gotten this close,” said Barbara Nanover, a Holly Lake resident. “The air quality right now is horrible, so people with lung problems like me or asthma are really going to have a difficult time in the next couple of days.”

The grass fire is creating a thick, dark smoke that remains relatively low. Peterich thinks the smoke could reach as far as the east coast of Broward County. He adds Miami-Dade may be getting some smoke as well.

An aircraft flying above the fire was keeping ground crews informed about the fire’s movement, Peterich said.

Because of gusting winds and low humidity levels, the National Weather Service in Miami issued a "fire weather watch" early Thursday for all of South Florida.

Fire officials will be monitoring both the winds and the humidity level, which is expected to drop as cooler weather arrives. Whether the growing fire sends smoke toward U.S. 27 and toward the populated areas of Broward will depend on wind direction, Peterich said.

“When people are out enjoying these areas, it doesn’t take much. Just don’t start any fires, camp fires, it’s just too dangerous right now with this dry weather and erratic winds, Peterich said.

While the specific cause of this fire, dubbed the Holiday Fire, isn’t known, Peterich said that most of the brush fires that have happened this month have been caused by humans and have been accidental.

“Its just so dry, it just takes a spark and the fire will keep burning,” he said.

While the fires can be dangerous and damaging, they’re good for the land, Peterich said.

“Once it rains, it’ll grow back. Nothing is being killed,” he said. “However it’s not good when you have structures that need to be protected.”

At one point Wednesday night, the fire was threatening the Everglades Lakes Mobile Home Park in western Pembroke Pines, but no structures there were damaged.

So far, there there have been no injuries reported because of the fire.