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Firefighters across Florida battle drought-fueled wildfires

Posted at 3:40 PM, Apr 24, 2017

Dozens of firefighters have spent Monday on the lookout for hot spots, after a fast moving wildfire burned through the Golden Gate Estates area over the weekend.

Aided by some weekend rainfall, Florida Forest Service fire crews, and other firefighters from around the state, were able to knock down and corral the 7,000 acre "30th Avenue Fire."

Around 7,000 homes had to be evacuated when flames raced towards more densely populated streets.

Firefighters were able to dig fire breaks in the ground to stop the quick movement of the fire towards the homes.

Nine houses did burn in the fire. Firefighters say when they first started attacking the fire on Thursday the flames leapt to a height of more than 100 feet.

The area is a densely forested neighborhood with narrow dirt and mud roads.

This is an intense beginning to what is being described as the worst and most active fire season in Florida in years.

Severe drought is making deceptively green trees bone dry and ripe for fire.

Joe Zwierzchowski is a spokesman for the Florida Forest Service. He says Florida has had some wetter years recently which had kept the fire danger low.

"This isn't out of the ordinary, this is what a real fire season looks like in Florida," he said.

Zwierzchowski said firefighters had to aggressively attack the fire to save homes.

"It started in what appears to be the middle of nowhere but as soon as you get a couple of blocks away from it you're looking at homes all over the place," he said.

One department that helped battle the fire said it was sparked by a lawnmower hitting a rock. Others, including the Florida Forest Service, dispute that saying there isn't enough evidence to determine a cause.

Zwierzchowski says Florida's fire season technically is 12 months per year, but it reaches its height between April and June.