St. Lucie County wildfire update: Special equipment used for hot spots and flare-ups

Forest rangers and firefighters on alert

ST. LUCIE COUNTY, Fla. -  Firefighters and forest rangers are still on alert 24 hours after a large wildlife rekindled in St. Lucie County.

120 acres burned Sunday night at the Indrio Savannahs Preserve.  That's on top of the 240 acres that burned a week ago Sunday.  

But outside of a small cloud of smoke and some smoldering near the airport, there hasn't been much fire activity Monday.

There is still plenty of activity though with some unique firefighting equipment.

Forest Ranger Peter Donahue brought the "Trooper" up from Broward County where it usually tromps through the Everglades.  

"I have yet to get this piece of equipment stuck.   I have tried," laughs Donahue.

It's the only vehicle of its kind in the state, and its job is to get out in front of any potential fire by putting out hot spots in the muck.

"Mash the sawgrass into the water and create a wet line and the fire will burn to that wet line and just go out," said Donahue.

But it's not the only unique vehicle in the preserve.  There is also the Bombardier.

Its job is to also get into wet terrain and "bombard" hot spots with water.

"It will penetrate deep into the ground into the muck or into the duff or whatever is smoldering.  Any hot areas that we have.  We can get down as deep as we need to," said Forest Ranger Joshua Cameron.

"Duff" is another word for the combination of dead grass, sticks and leaves, that create fuel for the fires.  It's been in piles two-feet deep in some places, and with high winds stirring up the ash under the surface Sunday, the mop-up operations here could go on for days or even weeks.

Forest Ranger Jeff Curl, he has been at the fire since it first ignited.

"It goes into a different level of mental awareness and physical ability to keep up.  Mentally and physically we're exhausted but we're here and we're doing our job to the best of our ability," said Curl as he boarded another plow heading into the fire lines.

Right now this fire is 95% contained.

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