Wildfires force evacuations in Florida | world | Hindustan Times
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Wildfires force evacuations in Florida

world Updated: May 13, 2008 10:56 IST

Dry, windy weather fueled several wildfires on Florida's central Atlantic coast, driving hundreds of residents from their homes as firefighters worked to contain the blazes and protect property.

Helicopters dropped water on a fire that had burned about 800 acres in Daytona Beach by Monday afternoon, said Division of Forestry spokesman Timber Weller.

Authorities ordered about 500 homes in the northwest part of the city to be evacuated. No homes were reported damaged, though officials warned that embers could fly more than a mile from the blaze. A eight-kilometre stretch of road through Daytona Beach was shut down because the fire was too close.

By yesterday, the skyline was free of the thick smoke that filled it the previous night, but firefighters were wary of flare-ups in the smoldering embers.

The fire was about 20 per cent contained, but firefighters' efforts would be challenged by high winds, Weller said.

"The weather conditions are ripe for extreme fire behaviour," Weller said. "What we're looking at is fairly typical for this time of year in Florida, coming into the end of the dry season."

In neighbouring Brevard County, a wildfire that grew to 3,000 acres destroyed at least one home and threatened 60 others, forestry officials said. No injuries were reported.

One person may be responsible for the Brevard County blaze, said Ernie Dieble, an arson investigator with the Palm Bay Police Department.

An eyewitness saw someone in a car drop something into an open field, and the fire started shortly afterward, he said.