Fort Pierce wildfire: Brush fire burns 200 acres, 90% contained, remains a threat to 1,000 homes

Firefighters say wind, dryness biggest enemies

FORT PIERCE, Fla. --  A day after a brush fire broke out and burned 200 acres in the northern part of Fort Pierce, small fires continue to flare up throughout the area threatening the 1,000 homes that were previously evacuated on Sunday.

"It seems like it's under control and we got good lines around it, but anything could change. We could get a good wind gust, something could catch on fire, a branch floats across the line and we're off the the races again," said Jeff Curl of the Florida Forest Service.

Investigators estimate the fire started near Indrio Road at the St. Lucie County Airport. What sparked the flames remains under investigation.

The Florida Forest Service worked around the clock from Sunday to Monday to make sure the brush fire did not start up again. Crews estimated the blaze is 90% contained.

Firefighters on Monday aid their biggest enemy is the wind. They said without warning, gusts could pick up hot embers and ash, carrying them to unburned vegetation. Firefighters said they have to be one step ahead of what nature plans.

"That's the game. Hence wildfire, it's wild," said Curl.

When firefighters could not stop the flames, they made their own.

"Fighting fire with fire and we literally do that," said Dale Armstrong of the Florida Fire Service.

Armstrong said what makes the brush fire so complex are the homes dotted all over the area of the fire.

At least 1,000 homes were evacuated and Armstrong said he and other never know what flammable materials are stored in sheds or buried underground.

"It's a constant chess match and hope that it's not out here," said Armstrong.

Residents like Lou Pereira said the fire came within feet of burning his home.

"There for a while, I thought I was going to lose the house," said Pereira.

The homeowner said bulldozers managed to dig trenches around his house. When the fire got near, everything but his home caught on fire.

Pereira said he considers himself lucky but not out of the clear.

"I mean I see things smoking all over the place and little brush fires all over so I'm still a little concerned to be honest," said Pereira.

Firefighters will remain on scene Monday night into Tuesday morning to mop up hot spots and small fires.


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