Central Fla. brush fires keep fire crews on high alert



FLORIDA - Smoldering brush fires across central Florida had firefighters on high alert Thursday morning.

It was the fifth day crews worked around the clock to keep a handful of brush fires from re-igniting.

In Brevard County, U.S. 1 closed in both directions Wednesday due to smoke and flames from a 30-acre brush fire in the Malabar Road and Marie Street areas.

By late Wednesday night, crews reported that the fire was 75 percent contained.

Firefighters from several agencies, including the Department of Forestry, battled the fire for several hours.

Firefighters don't yet know the cause of the fire. They said there were no injuries or structures lost.

By 9 p.m., all of the lanes of U.S. 1 had reopened.

Skywitness 9 HD flew over a brush fire that broke out in east Orange County, near Avalon Park.

Firefighters spent Wednesday evening trying to keep the flames away from an apartment complex.

One resident said firefighters evacuated six buildings. He said he watched as nearby trees went up in flames.

"At some points they are up to 50 feet high in the air and they were kind of growing and they are trying to contain them," said Jacob Engles.

By late Wednesday night, the seven-acre fire was completely contained. Firefighters said they would remain in the area to douse any hot spots.

Firefighters also spent Wednesday tackling a brush fire that ignited in the Port St. John area in Brevard County.

Crews said high winds and dry conditions fueled the fire, which continues to smolder near the Canaveral Groves community.

In battling the 40-acre blaze, firefighters had to conduct both a ground and aerial assault. Firefighters used a fire retardant foam to beat back flames between the Veronica Estates and Canaveral Groves communities.

"They're right there and they say they are there to protect us," resident Fred Bora said of the crews. "And they say they're going to save this street no matter what."

So far, the fire has not reignited.

In Apopka, residents were on edge after a wildfire burned close to their homes on Wednesday.

The blaze broke out in the southern part of the city, east of State Road 429.

Crews quickly contained the blaze, the second that sparked in the same area this week.

The flames, paired with strong winds, worried homeowner Wilfredo Santiago.

"It was pretty fast. It cleared (a) whole section in a matter of five minutes," Santiago said.

Santiago said the flames were spreading so fast he couldn't wait for the fire department.

"I ran over with three hoses and I got a nozzle that looks like the fire department nozzle and I went to the woods and stopped it before it got to the house," he said.

On Monday, another brush fire burned close to homes, but no homes were damaged in either blaze.