Wildfire engulfs over 1,000 acres of land in Southwest Miami-Dade

SOUTHWEST MIAMI-DADE, FLA. (WSVN) - Crews continue to monitor an over 1,000-acre fire that engulfed undeveloped land in both the north and south sides of Southwest Eighth Street in Southwest Miami-Dade, Sunday.

Monday morning, the Florida Forest Service confirmed that the 670-acre fire had grown to span 1,065 acres.

According to the Florida Forest Service, beginning at around 1 p.m., Sunday, the fire swept through Eighth Street from 137th Avenue all the way to Krome Avenue. At around 2 p.m., the fire jumped across Krome Avenue and was threatening surrounding structures. The fire eventually made its way all the way to Southwest 177th Street.

At 2 p.m., Sunday, a total of 12 fire rescue units were on the scene battling the fire.

At this point, the fire encompassed several square miles of undeveloped land. The land affected is composed of mostly grass and melaleuca trees.

“We’ve got 520 Acres on the north side of Southwest Eighth Street,” said Florida Forest Service spokesperson Scott Peterich, ” and the remaining is on the south side. “There’s also 30 Acres that has jumped Krome Avenue from the south side.”

Unfortunately, officials explained that the high winds were making the fire difficult to control. Peak gusts reached 40 MPH, Sunday afternoon.

“These high winds are making what we call ‘spot fires,” explained Peterich. “An amber will get up in the air, and under these dry conditions, when it lands, another fire starts.”

At around 5 p.m., officials closed Eighth Street from 137th Avenue to 177th Avenue. Officials advised drivers to use caution along Tamiami Trail (US-41) because smoke plumes pushed west.

Due to the Southwest Eighth Street road closure, residents were asked to use Southwest 10th and Southwest 16th Streets as alternate routes until further notice.

“Our biggest concern is the smoke that is in the area,” explained Miami-Dade  Fire Resuce Lieutenant Felipe Lay, “so what we do urge is that the residents stay indoors, windows closed, doors closed, especially if you have any type of respiratory issues. Visibility is affected and that’s why the roads are closed.”

Around this time, the thick smoke forced a restaurant on Eighth Street to be evacuated, causing area restaurant patrons and employees to worry.

“They closed the street and I didn’t know that,” said a woman who works nearby. “So, I got a little scared and a little terrified.”

At 7 p.m., it was unclear how much of the fire had been contained.

“These fires run very, very fast,” explained Peterich. “And grass, it’s a very fine fuel, and once it catches on fire with this wind, you can’t even hardly see it move. It just all of a sudden is a puff of flame.”

At around 10 p.m., Southwest Eighth Street, from 137th Avenue to 177th Avenue reopened to vehicular traffic, according to Miami-Dade Fire Rescue.

Like Southwest Miami-Dade, Palm Beach Gardens was also dealing with a fast spreading fire over the weekend.

Palm Beach Gardens Fire Rescue tweeted out thermal images taken by a drone’s camera of an out of control blaze, that burned more than 80 Acres.

The smoke was so thick that Florida highway patrol was forced to shut down several miles of Interstate 95 in both directions.

Officials said the high winds over the weekend combined with lack of rain in the past several months can make for a really disastrous situation.

MDFR units remained in the area of Southwest Eighth Street, Sunday, patrolling throughout the night.

Fire officials are counting on an increase in humidity to help decrease the intensity of the fire, Monday.

Although the cause of the fire remains under investigation, officials believe the fire was man made.

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