Wake-up call after round of brush fires in Palm Beach County, Treasure Coast

Dry conditions early in season fuel flames

LOXAHATCHEE, Fla. - Fire crews across the area were battling brush fires on Friday, with light winds and dry conditions adding to their difficult work. The Florida Forest Service says that the top six inches of soil in much of Palm Beach County and the Treasure Coast is dried out.

A garden hose was Nellie Newman's first line of defense.

"Oh, it's very exciting and terribly frightening," said Newman outside her home on Murcott Boulevard in Loxahatchee. She said flames came within about twenty feet of her house.

"Much too close," she said.

1.5 acres of an overgrown lot on Murcott near Banyan Boulevard went up in flames at approximately 3 p.m. on Friday. It served as a dose of reality for Palm Beach County firefighters, who say this brush fire sparked up earlier than expected in the dry season.

"Everything is just prime for lighting up right now, so we're just trying to stay on top of it," said District Chief Richard Seamon of Palm Beach County Fire Rescue.

Crews from the Florida Forest Service were among those keeping watch of the area overnight, to prevent any flare-ups.

"We're getting started. We're getting ready to go along with Fire Rescue and, yeah, we're getting ready," said Chris Wasil with the Florida Forest Service.

It is unclear how the fire started.

Dry conditions were keeping crews busy in St. Lucie County as well. Authorities there said a power line fell down near Shinn Road, sparking a 2-acre fire. The fire was extinguished before reaching three buildings and two large gas tanks nearby.

Fire officials said this should serve as a reminder for residents to create a 20 to 50 foot 'defensible space' around their homes as well as to clean brush from rooftops.

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