OCHOPEE, Fla. (WSVN) — A brush fire within the Big Cypress National Preserve, located north of U.S. 41/Tamiami Trail in Collier County, has forced troopers to shut down 60 miles of Tamiami Trail, Tuesday.
By 4 p.m., two fires burnt over 6,000 acres of foliage, consisting of scrubs, brushes and pine trees, on the west side of Florida, just north of the Tamiami Trail.
According to the Florida Highway Patrol, troopers closed U.S. 41 at around 3:30 p.m., between State Road 29 in Collier County and Krome Avenue in Miami-Dade County.
All motorists are requested to avoid the U.S. 41 area, making for a frustrating afternoon for those trying to head west on Tamiami Trail.
Officials said the length of the closure is contingent upon visibility conditions. The closure is necessary for fire services to establish a burnout along U.S. 41 and to assist with maneuvering necessary fire equipment, according to the FHP.
Officials and residents located west of Krome Avenue are concerned there might be smoke due to the backfires, later in the evening.
However, local residents with proper identification showing residency are being allowed to travel through the road closure area.
Authorities advised motorists to use Interstate 75 as an alternate route. Updates will be provided as needed.
Some drivers in the area said they could lose work due to the closure.
When asked what the road closure mean for him, one driver said, “It means I’ll lose some money.”
“Well, I have no idea. I might be out of work for a couple of days,” said another driver.
Traffic in the area began to die down just after 6 p.m.
Troopers continue to monitor conditions throughout the day. It is unknown how long the 60-mile stretch of Tamiami Trail will be closed.
The blaze comes more than two weeks after a 7,500-acre brush fire sparked in Collier County, March 5. The heavy flames led authorities to shut down Alligator Alley and also prompted FHP troopers to close I-75, as the smoke made it difficult for drivers to see.
Big Cypress National Preserve, the first national preserve in the National Park System, protects over 700,000 acres of the Big Cypress Swamp in South Florida.
Copyright 2018 Sunbeam Television Corp. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.