PALM BEACH COUNTY, Fla. — Several wildfires burning near the Palm Beach and Broward County line on Thursday pushed smoke into the west Boca Raton and Delray Beach area.
WPTV First Alert Meteorologist Kahtia Hall said the fires are burning in a heavily grassy area, west of Coral Springs and just south of the Loxahatchee National Wildlife Refuge.
"If you see or smell smoke in the Boca Raton area, Delray Beach, it's best to stay inside," Hall said. "There are a couple wildfires burning to the west and that is pushing in some of that smoke."
Exclusive video from WPTV Chopper 5 showed a line of flames burning up the dry grass, and thick smoke shooting high into the sky.
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The Florida Forest Service said multiple lightning strikes on Wednesday ignited the grass and vegetation, which are very dry this time of year due to low rainfall.
Officials said three fires are burning a total of more than 7,100 acres. Two of the fires are each 5% contained, while the third has no containment.
"It is a sizable fire," said David Rosenbaum, a spokesman for the Florida Forest Service. "The wind is continuing to blow the smoke in a easterly direction, and that's where you're getting that complaint of smoke and ash."
WPTV First Alert Meteorologist James Wieland said the winds — which were initially coming out of the west — shifted around 10 a.m. Thursday and are now coming out of the northeast, which is pushing the smoke out of our area.
"The winds have switched back and that smoke is now going to blow back to the west," Wieland said.
A WPTV viewer said he saw smoke lingering in the air and ash on cars in the area of State Road 7 and Glades Road in west Boca Raton.
"The winds are carrying the smoke, a very light smoke and ash, toward areas in northern Broward and southern Palm Beach County," Rosenbaum said. "It's very light smoke, but it's a detectable odor of light smoke, as well as some light ash."
"This is our driest time of year here as we approach the start of flipping the switch and turning the rains on. That's still a couple weeks away," Wieland said. "So we got high temperatures and not a lot of rain, so things dry out."
High temperatures on Thursday will be in the upper 80s with mostly sunny skies and mainly dry conditions.
3 fires burning, about 1400 acres of grassy land,most likely due to lightning strikes.The winds shifted southwest overnight and blew the smoke over parts of southern Palm Beach Co. Residents reported strong smoke smell & even ashes falling from the sky. #florida #fire #wildfire pic.twitter.com/gbTJ3TXLQQ— James Wieland 🏄🏻♂️ (@SurfnWeatherman) May 5, 2022
Wieland said the winds will once again shift to the southwest Thursday night, so more smoky conditions are expected in southern Palm Beach County on Friday morning.