Winds hamper Florida firefighting effort

March 3, 2011 at 9:07 PM
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MIMS, Fla., March 3 (UPI) -- Strong winds threatened to hamper efforts against the Iron Horse fire in Florida, which burned nearly 17,000 acres and posed a threat to homes, officials said.

More than 200 firefighters were engaged in the operation on the ground and in helicopters, the Orlando Sentinel reported. Gusty winds Thursday threatened to complicate the fight to bring the Central Florida wildfire under control, the newspaper said.

Volusia County spokeswoman Pat Kuehn told the Sentinel the fire is largely confined to wooded areas.

"We're lucky that it's in an unpopulated area," she said.

A stretch of Interstate 95 was temporarily closed again Wednesday because shifting winds pushed flames back toward the highway in an area where they had jumped the road the day before, Fred Johnson, assistant Brevard County fire chief, told the newspaper.

Flames jumped a fire line Wednesday, raising concerns about a potential threat to a housing subdivision in Volusia County, officials said.

Florida Secretary of Agriculture Adam Putnam said the blaze was the worst of 80 wildfires burning in the state. Of those, 20 fires burned more than 100 acres individually.

So far, three vacant structures were destroyed and one firefighter was injured in the Iron Horse fire, the Sentinel reported.

The Florida Highway Patrol, noting the anticipated arrival of half a million participants in the 70th Bike Week festival in Daytona Beach, advised drivers and motorcycle riders to keep an eye out for each other, the Sentinel reported.

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