WASHINGTON, D.C. -- As wildfires continue to burn across much of Florida, state officials report nearly 130,000 acres have been consumed so far this year. Most of burned acres are in the Everglades, where firefighters are battling a blaze that grew from 50,000 acres late last week to 100,000 by yesterday.
The flames and smoke forced the closure of Interstate 75 from Ft. Lauderdale west to Naples, a distance of approximately 105 miles. Officials hope to reopen that highway today.
Flights in and out of Miami International Airport were cancelled or delayed due to the heavy smoke yesterday. Flight operations should be back to normal this morning.
As of April 15, 10 firefighters had been injured across the state.
Florida's State Emergency Operations Center (EOC) has been activated. At the request of state, a liaison officer from FEMA's Region IV staff has been sent to the EOC.
This year's fires are below the 4,655 that occurred in 1998, and burned more than 481,000 acres. In 1997, 4,027 fires destroyed 146,000 acres, and in 1996, 93,000 acres fell victim to more than 3,340 fires.
Based on the most recent report from the Florida Division of Forestry (DOF), as of April 17, The US Forest Service, the National Park Service, the Florida DOF and the Florida National Guard are all providing aerial support in for the form of observation and tanker aircraft.
The National Weather Service (NWS) reports some rain fell across southern Florida this past weekend, but it was not enough to make a significant impact on the wildfires. NWS forecasters are calling for dry conditions through at least Friday.