Alligator Alley reopens after Big Cypress National Preserve wildfire smoke hazard

UPDATE: According to the Florida Highway Patrol: All lanes in both directions have re-opened.

EARLIER STORY:

— The Florida Highway Patrol closed more than 75 miles of the Alligator Alley section of Interstate 75 and State Road 29 in Collier County early Monday because of severely reduced visibility from a brush fire in Big Cypress National Preserve.

Closed are I-75's Alley section between mile marker 101 in Collier County and mile marker 23 at U.S. 27 in Broward County, and SR 29 between Oil Well Road on the north end and U.S. 41 East on the south end, the FHP reports.

The FHP announced the closure of the interstate and part of State Road 29 about 3:30 a.m.. Monday, and announced the closing of the northern section of 29 just after 4 a.m.

As of Sunday afternoon, the brush fire in the Big Cypress National Preserve had grown to 20,000 acres, but it is 40 percent contained, said Ryan Stubblebine, a spokesman for Big Cypress National Preserve. Additional personnel and a hotshot crew from Virginia were fighting the fire located near Alligator Alley, he said.

The start of the fire has been labeled suspicious and is under investigation, Stubblebine said.

It was a bad weekend for local wildfires. Three separate brush fires smoked out eastern Collier County residents on Saturday.

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