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Florida brush fire grows to 1,100 acres, 75 percent contained

HERNANDO COUNTY, Fla. (WFLA) – A brush fire is burning through at least 1,100 acres in the Weekiwachee Preserve.

The flames broke out Saturday night near Calienta Street and Shoal Line Boulevard. The fire is 75 percent contained at this point.

With four dozers, two helicopters and numerous brush trucks, Hernando County fire rescue crews continue to work with the Florida Forest Service and state and local agencies to contain the fire.

They’ve conducted a back-burning operation and expect to burn a total of 1,000 acres.

“It’s wet and it’s marshy and the tractor plow units are very heavy so they sink in that, so we’re doing the best we can with those dozer lines, but that’s one of the reasons we decided to do a burnout,” Judith Tear of the Florida Forestry Service told WFLA’s Chip Osowski.

“With the wind direction that we have, it is east, northeast, it will back slowly into the main fire and that takes away the fuel load so the fire no longer has forward progression.”

Shoal Line Blvd. has been closed from Linda Pedersen Park, 6300 Shoal Line Blvd., to the Coast Guard Auxiliary Building, 4340 Calienta St., until further notice.

The Hernando Beach boat ramp has also been shut down due to excessive smoke.

Proof of residency is required to enter the area.

Officials with the Florida Forest Service say there are no homes in the path of the fire, and no structures in immediate danger.

No one has been injured, but residents in both Hernando County and Pasco County are experiencing heavy smoke.

“Anybody that is prone to respiratory issues, the smoke can affect them and exacerbate their condition. So we’re asking those folks stay in their homes, keep their windows closed and keep their air conditioning on and if they have any worsening condition call 911, ” said Hernando County Fire Rescue Division Chief Alex Lopez.

The Hernando County Sheriff’s Office says the presence of drones is strictly forbidden due to safety concerns.  Tear with the Forestry Service told WFLA when a drone is spotted, all airborne firefighting operations are suspended, meaning choppers and fixed wing aircraft are grounded until the drone is out of sight.

Residents have also been encouraged to report fires promptly and monitor WFLA for the latest updates on this unfolding event.

You can also follow the Hernando County Fire Rescue on Facebook and Twitter. The Florida Forest Service is also on Twitter.

The Florida Forestry Service and the Hernando County Fire Rescue will hold a news conference at 7 am on Monday with updates on the fire.

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