INDIAN RIVER COUNTY, Fla. - Mother Nature was standing in the way of thousands of commuters on the Treasure Coast on Wednesday.
Interstate 95 was shut down to traffic in both directions for hours as crews battled a 60 acre brush fire in southern Indian River County. Authorities say that the fire is currently 100 percent contained.
The fire sparked in the early afternoon hours on the west side of Interstate 95. Poor visibility because of heavy, dark smoke, forced the shut down of the highway northbound for nearly four hours and southbound for about six hours. Detours were used to route traffic around the problem area.
"When I drove through it, I prayed that there was nothing on the other side," said Melissa Yunas, Fire Mitigation Specialist with the Florida Forestry Service. The danger, she said, remains high. "We could easily have multiple fires in one day." No homes were threatened and no injuries were reported, authorities said.
A firefighting helicopter dumped about 27,000 gallons of water on the fire and was then sent from the Treasure Coast to the west side of Florida to fight another fire. "All we need is just one little spark," said Yunas.
The fire ignited business at the State Road 60 Shell Gas Station, which happened to be along one of the detours.
"It was good for us but I guess bad for a lot of people because they were stuck," said Nick Pradhan, a gas station employee.
Overnight and into Thursday morning was said to bring the potential for new challenges for fire crews and for drivers. High winds and low humidity could rekindle the flames.
Crews were on the scene are trying to stamp out any 'hot spots'. Drivers are urged to use caution between State Road 60 and Orange Avenue along the interstate, until visibility improves.
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