Firefighters watch for hot spots in PSL

Posted at 2:36 PM, Mar 17, 2016

ST. LUCIE COUNTY, Fla. -- St. Lucie County firefighters are keeping a close watch for hot spots in Port St. Lucie where a brush fire Thursday caused evacuations and road closures.

The fire sparked in a wooded area near Gatlin Blvd. and Savona Blvd.

At least one home was evacuated as a precaution, and the roads nearby were closed to traffic as firefighters worked to gain control of the flames.

Officials with the Florida Forest Service say there was an enormous amount of dry brush, pine needles and branches in the area which helped fuel the fire.

Belinda Ezell lives right across the street from the wooded area that went up in flames.

"It was scary… I was scared for my daughter, mainly because she was there by herself," she said.

Ezell was caught in traffic. "I couldn't get home. So, people panic when they can't get home. That's the first thing I did, which I had to calm down," Ezell said.

Fire officials say the might never know exactly what caused the fire, but they say the weather likely didn't help the situation.

St. Lucie County Fire District Chief Kyle Stirrat said," We've got a drought, you've got high wind, it's spring time now, so we're going to start seeing more and more fires this time of year."

Melissa Yunas, spokesperson for the Florida Forest Service, says the city of Port St. Lucie has asked FFS to do more to help the city prevent brush fires.

That could include doing more to clear out wooded areas of duff- old pine needles, dry brush and sticks- to prevent the spread of fires.

Yunas says FFS does clear out some large areas of land a couple times a year, but they can't afford to do more than that.

"Maybe they could spray water through here or something?" Ezell questioned.

Yunas says it's another reason people need to do their own part to protect properties from having a fire risk.

That includes clearing pine needles from the roof or gutters, trimming vegetation away from homes, and keeping lawns green and well watered.

Yunas says the fire risk Thursday was high for Indian River and Okeechobee Counties, and moderate for the rest of the Treasure Coast and Palm Beach County.

The fire risk is expected to remain the same Friday.