A brush fire in an isolated strip of woods between I-95 and Palm Coast’s P-Section kicked off a lot of smoke and burned a 2-acre area but never threatened homes and by sundown had been all but mopped up, Palm Coast Deputy Fire Chief Jerry Forte said this evening.
Smoke alerted authorities to the fire. From Flagler County Fire Flight, the emergency helicopter, it appeared to be about 2 acres. The Palm Coast Fire Department responded but because of the location of the fire, between a canal that runs parallel to I-95 and the highway itself, crews at first struggled to reach it. The Florida Forest Service–formerly, the Division of Forestry–sent in bulldozers that dug a line around the fire that doubled up as a road for fire department equipment to use and start battling the flames.
“When crews arrived, 150 feet in from the woodline, it was pushing west toward the canal system,” Forte said. It was 250 feet wide and 400 feet long, burning grassy, palmetto brush. “It really wasn’t burning very fast.” It pushed some smoke onto the Interstate, around mile marker 287, catching motorists’ attention and prompting the Florida Highway Patrol to send an advisory in early evening.
“Visibility may deteriorate quickly due to smoke/fog type conditions,” the FHP advisory noted, “especially during the night time and early morning hours. Motorists are reminded to reduce their speed as necessary to avoid a collision and utilize their low beam headlights in order to adapt to changing weather conditions.”
But Forte said that between the reports he received from Flagler County Emergency Management of winds from the south and southeast–which would push whatever smoke remains toward the P Section, rather than onto the highway–and based on the work the crews accomplished by evening, the amount of smoke should be limited. “We’ll probably see some smoke in the P Section from residuals in the area, plus they’re also expecting some fog,” Forte said, describing likely hazy conditions around the Pritchard Drive area. Houses were never in danger.
“They’re winding down the mop-up operations,” Forte said around 7:30 p.m.
Initially three front-line engines plus volunteers from the Palm Coast Fire Department tackled the fire. The operation then scaled back to using career firefighters, using one engine and one woods truck, with half a dozen volunteers staffing other equipment, Forte said. Most crew members had been released by evening. The department will be monitoring the area over the next 12 hours and return in the morning to ensure that the perimeter is secure.
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