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Burn ban in Martin County, as risk for man-made fires intensifies into holiday weekend

Posted at 9:50 PM, May 08, 2017
and last updated 2017-05-08 23:54:56-04

Martin County officials announced a burn ban Monday, effective immediately, in response to dry conditions.

State officials today also rated the majority of the state anywhere from a high risk to extreme risk of wildfire danger.

Martin County's risk is considered very high, one level below extreme.

This comes one day after a human caused wildfire that burned 28 acres, forcing both directions on I-95 to close for around three hours Sunday, near mile marker 107.

It started on the northbound side.

David Grubich, a forest ranger with the Florida Forest Service takes us down the dusty road to the human caused fire.

"It started right in this area," he says showing us a spot where green grass once grew.

Young men drove uninvited onto private property, when the engine sparked the fire.

"That's why we really want the word out for people to be cautious because our lives are on the line immediately when we're out here," he says. 

When firefighters arrived, the young men were using a 5-gallon bucket, and scooping water from this pond-throwing it on the flames.

"It has zero effect on stopping that fire," Grubich says. Something that's not recommended. Call 911 instead.

Bulldozers created  a containment line through the thick, overgrown brush. But even I-95 would prove to be no match at restricting the flames.

Invasive an invasive, spaghetti-looking plant known as lygodium stared 3 spot fires 1/3rd of a mile away, on the southbound side of I-95.

"All this will become detached and it'll just be a gigantic cloud of embers flying through the air," Grubich says.

I-95 shut down for two reasons: poor visibility and for critical bulldozers to cross safely.

"It was impossible until we got the freeway shutdown," Grubich says about fighting all the fires.

Monday's focus: mop up. Putting out hotspots, and replacing any fence post firefighters knocked over.

"Finish this one up and be ready for the next one because there will be," Grubich says. "All it's going to take is one mistake."

Before we left, we spotted a swallow tailed kite, dinner in talons, soaring overhead. Birds of prey are known to hunt above recently burned land.

Anecdotally, the FFS says Mother's Day is one of those days every year where there seems to be a wildfire.

The reminder is to avoid doing things like  driving over grass, and follow the burn ban restrictions.