82,000 acres still burning in Big Cypress Preseve

Lee Herald Favicon 16The group of brush fires known as the Avian Complex burning in Big Cypress Preserve continued to grow despite a rainy Sunday reaching a combined 82,461 acres scorched by the collection of blazes.

According to reports from park officials, there are five distinct fires that have contributed to the conflagration in Big Cypress Reserve including: Buzzard Fire at 62,404 acres, Flamingo Fire at 11.689 acres, Curlew Fire at 8,366 acres, Culture Fire at one acre and Caracara Fire at one acre. The Flamingo and Buzzard fires continued to spread to the south and west this morning, but all of the fires became dormant as heavier rains moved into the area.

The showers are helping, but officials said it would take an extended period of rainfall before conditions in Southwest Florida recovered from months of dry weather.

“Up to an inch of rain today will further slow fire spread,” said officials. “However, it will take extended periods of moisture to recover from the prolonged drought and put out the fires.”

Scattered showers and isolated thunderstorms are expected throughout the week as the area returns to its familiar summer weather patterns. Officials warn that while rains have helped decrease smoke, drivers should be aware that roads may still be impacted.

While the smaller Culture and Caracara fires are fully contained, the Avian Complex as a whole is just five percent contained, says the National Wildfire Coordinating Group. 338 personnel, seven helicopters, three single-engine air tankers and 19 fire engines are currently fighting the collective blazes.

The following areas have been closed until further notice due to the fires:

Loop Road from Monroe Station to the Everglades Education Center.
Dona Drive is closed to all public access.
Stairsteps: All lands in Zone 3. Zone 4 is closed to all public access by airboat
Paces Dike Off-Road Vehicles (ORVs)
Roberts Lake Trail south from Loop Road
Lands east of Turner River Rd., west of the Preserve’s eastern boundary and north of Hwy. 41
The Florida National Scenic Trail is closed from the Oasis Visitor Center to I-75 mile marker 63.
All Preserve lands north of I-75 between Hwy. 29 and Bundschu Grade

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