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St. Lucie County brush fire contained, possibly ignited by lawn equipment

Containment area continues to smolder, send smoke into sky
A brush fire burns in St. Lucie County near the fairgrounds on May 11, 2024,
Posted at 3:56 PM, May 12, 2024
and last updated 2024-05-12 21:56:04-04

ST. LUCIE COUNTY, Fla. — A brush fire in St. Lucie County was contained Saturday night, but forestry officials said residents may continue to still see smoke in the area.

The 155-acre fire ignited over the weekend near Peacock Road and Okeechobee Road, which is close to the St. Lucie County Fairgrounds.

The Florida Forest Service told WPTV the fire was contained by 10 p.m. Saturday.

St. Lucie County Fire District truck in foreground of brush fire, May 11, 2024

Region St Lucie County

Smoke from brush fires prompt health warning

Peter Burke
5:14 PM, May 11, 2024

Multiple piles within the containment area continue to smolder and send smoke into the sky on Sunday.

"I noticed they had a fire just behind the camper here and the fire department was out there probably pretty much all day yesterday dealing with the fire," resident Mackey Davis said.

Forestry officials said they believe the fire was ignited by lawn equipment in the area.

"When the county was out here mowing, you hit something in the dirt, and the next thing you knew it sparked," Dave Grubich with the Florida Forest Service said. "That one little spark in this dry grass is all it took."

A second fire in the county, the Long Bay Fire, occurred about 5 miles west of the Peacock Road fire.

The Long Bay fire, which occurred after a May 2 lightning strike, burned about 350 acres.

Dave Grubich with the Florida Forest Service discusses how the Peacock fire began.
Dave Grubich with the Florida Forest Service discusses how the Peacock fire began.

"It's been taking a lot of resources because this is called a bay. For layman's terms it's a swamp, and it's a swamp with no water in it right now," Grubich said. "The water it does have is 3 feet underground. Well, that 3 feet of dirt is actually burning."

The Florida Department of Health in St. Lucie County on Saturday cautioned the public about smoke from the brush fire.

Health officials suggest the following tips if smoke is present:

  • Limit outdoor activities
  • While inside your home, run your air conditioner, keep the fresh air intake closed and the filter clean. This will prevent bringing additional smoke inside.
  • If you have medical conditions like asthma, contact your health care provider if you are having difficulty breathing

With dry conditions persisting, nearby Indian River County still has a burn ban in effect that was put in place Tuesday.

Martin County Fire Rescue also said any burning activity is currently prohibited.

WPTV was told that the drought index is nearly 600, so even a spark could cause a fire.

Despite Florida being the lightning capital of the U.S., the Department of Agriculture says on its website that humans are the leading cause of wildfires in the state.