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Treasure Coast wildfires torch hundreds of acres

Posted at 5:00 PM, Mar 21, 2018
and last updated 2018-03-22 19:03:11-04

Eleven wildfires on the Treasure Coast and Okeechobee County sparked by lightning have burned more than 520 acres since Wednesday. All roads are back open Thursday morning after earlier closures.

RELATED: Photos of the wildfires | Latest traffic conditions

Firefighters say the 204-acre wildfire off Becker Road was 100 percent contained by Thursday afternoon.

The fire, which was caused by a Tuesday thunderstorm, was 70 percent contained Thursday morning. Dry and windy conditions helped the fire grow. 

Interstate 95 was back open in both directions at mile marker 151 at 12:30 a.m. Thursday.

However, drivers should watch out for smoke along I-95 between Fellsmere and Vero Beach during their morning drive.

The forest service tweeted early Thursday that they will "patrol, monitor and mop" to prevent any of these wildfires from rekindling.

Firefighters said their main concern is containing the fire, and they will be looking for hot spots.

"We have what's called type 6 engines that basically have water on them, and we are going to drive through the woods and actually start putting water on these things and improve our lines ... start putting some of the things that are smoking out and hopefully it won't rekindle and get into something bigger," said forest ranger David Grubiuch. 

Approximately 20 homes were briefly evacuated Wednesday, but all residents have been allowed to return. Ten homes had to be evacuated in the Harbor Ridge community of Port St. Lucie.

Becker Road is back open in both directions, but drivers should continue to use caution because of smoky conditions.

"We’re not even out of March yet and it’s already starting. Usually this is generally closer to April, towards June, so it’s a little bit drier than it has been for us," said St. Lucie County Fire District Chief Nate Spera.

Firefighters stress this is the time for residents to clean out the gutters and make sure there is no brush around the home. They say in these weather conditions an ember can spark a huge fire.

Small Fire Extinguished in Palm Beach County

Palm Beach County Fire Rescue Capt. Albert Borroto quickly extinguished a brush fire Thursday morning near Lantana Road and the Florida Turnpike.  

Chopper 5 flew over the scene just before 8 a.m. and spotted multiple fire trucks but no flames.

At 9:21 a.m., Borroto said they are also at a quarter-acre fire in the Jupiter Farms area near Seminole Pratt and Indiantown roads.

Wildfire In Indian River County

Crews battled a brush fire in Indian River County west of I-95 and north of State Road 60 on Wednesday. As of Thursday around 7 p.m., the fire was 90 percent contained and has burned roughly 380 acres.

The Forest Service says new wildfires kept popping up Wednesday because winds were drying out the moisture from this week's rain.

According to the Forest Service, smoke will be an issue due to the piles of debris on fire.