WEST BROWARD, FLA. (WSVN) - Crews have finally gained the upper hand on a large brush fire that had ignited in the Florida Everglades on Wednesday and burned through parts of West Broward and Northwest Miami-Dade this weekend.
According to Scott Peterich of the Florida Forestry Service, Mack’s Fish Camp was evacuated on Friday, and 20 structures at the fish camp are threatened by the fire, Friday afternoon. Officials said low humidity and winds are to blame for the fire spreading.
7Skyforce HD hovered above the massive blaze in the area northwest of Krome Avenue and south of U.S. 27.
As of 10 a.m., Sunday, about 6,600 acres of land and foliage had burned. Forestry officials tweeted out that the fire had finally been fully contained.
According to fire officials, the direction of the wind did a 180 turn overnight. On Thursday, the wind was blowing south to north, but by early Friday morning, the wind started blowing southward.
In an attempt to control and contain the flames, airboat outdoorsmen at Mack’s Fish Camp created their own fire line. The airboats knocked down the tall grassy spots that helped feed flames.
“We took our airboats in the back. We began to run a fire break, just to knock down the line in a straight line,” said Keith Jones at Mack’s Fish Camp.
7News cameras later captured firefighters dousing the flames near the camp.
“[I’ve seen] dozens of fires in my lifetime here in the area to the east of us, the Conservation Area 3B,” said Marshall Jones at the camp. “I’ve never seen a fire move faster than this one did today.”
Forestry officials said crews are tactically burning off the high grass to the west of where the brush fire was burning in the morning in an effort to halt the spread of the flames into the camp or nearby mobile home parks. They are also using the canals in the area as a bumper to help contain the flames.
“We were able to hold the fire and not allow it to go further south,” said Peterich.
This is a multi-agency effort as they attempt to contain the fire and protect both Everglades Holiday Park and the fish camp. “I can’t stress enough that this was a true joint effort from all of the departments involved, led by the heavy lifting from the Florida Forestry firefighters,” said Broward Sheriff Fire Rescue spokesperson Mike Jachles.
Several families who live at the camp rent out airboats.
Meanwhile, in Cutler Bay, reports came in from the school board of a reported smoke situation at Bel-Aire Elementary School, located at 10205 S.W. 194th St.
Several students got sick from the smoke. “I was running, and then I noticed the ash coming, so I started to cough,” said student Darnelle Joubert.
Nine-year-old LeBron Burns said the smokey conditions caused his asthma to kick in. “I started choking and coughing. It started to hurt, could hardly breathe,” he said.
Miami-Dade Fire Rescue responded to check out the students.
Audrey Cain, Burns’ mother, came to pick him up. “I gotta go put him on a breathing treatment. They gave him a breathing treatment and stuff in the classroom back there,” she said.
Physical Education classes were canceled for the day, and students were kept inside. Students at the school will be on spring break next week.
One person from Bel-Aire Elementary has been transported to Baptist Hospital, according to Miami-Dade Fire Rescue.
On Wednesday, an evacuation was issued at Everglades Holiday Park due to the brush fire.
Ash from the brush fire was also spotted in cars parked at Jackson Memorial Hospital in Miami.
The fire sparked at around 3 p.m., Wednesday, forest officials said, west of U.S. 27. By Thursday, the fire had burned over 900 acres of land and was about 20 percent contained. Residents and tourists were then ordered to evacuate out of Everglades Holiday Park while others planned to deal with the smoke.
Pembroke Pines Fire Rescue and Forest Service units responded to the scene to evacuate Everglades Holiday Park.
This marks the first time in 25 years that Everglades Holiday Park had closed.
Conditions were dry in the area, and there were strong winds coming out of the south and southeast, pushing the fire north, earlier, Thursday. Meteorologists said weather conditions are going to remain favorable for the possibility of additional wildfires flaring up.
The cause is still under investigation, but officials don’t believe the fire started naturally.
No one has been injured, and no structures have been damaged.
A smoke advisory remains in place throughout Miami-Dade and Broward counties, except for coastal areas, until 8 a.m., Saturday.
Heavy smoke is expected to cause some health issues as it continues to spread. The smoke may affect the elderly, young children and people with respiratory issues, so the best thing to do is stay inside, officials said.
“People with any respiratory problems, the elderly and the young ones, infants and children, stay inside,” said Jachles.
Miami-Dade Fire Rescue spokesperson Maggie Castro echoed Jachles’ health warning. “Keep your windows at home closed to keep the ash and smoke out,” she said. “Try to keep your air conditioner on as long as possible to recirculate the air inside of your home, and keep the conditions as clean as possible in your home.”
The Everglades Holiday Park remained closed on Friday.
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