Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

The Avon Park wildfire we could smell from Tampa Bay now 50 percent contained

Folks who smelled smoke while leaving their homes in the immediate Tampa Bay area on Thursday shouldn't have been alarmed. There was no wildfire in their backyard.

There is a fire, but it's close to 100 miles away, if you're coming from St. Petersburg.

The smoky smell has traveled from a 6,000-acre wildfire in the Avon Park Air Force Bombing Range, an area straddling the Highlands-Polk County lines.

The wildfire was 50 percent contained by Thursday afternoon, firefighters said.

"We don't anticipate it leaving the range property," said the range's operations director Buck MacLaughlin.

The fire started in an "active impact area" during a military training session Wednesday, MacLaughlin said. The range has its own crew of firefighters, who are being assisted by the Florida Forest Service.

Because the grounds of the training area could have old explosives used in prior trainings near the ground's surface, crews are back-burning to box the fire in rather than using a bulldozer, MacLaughlin said. Mainly, he said, crews will ensure the fire doesn't spread but allow it to burn out.

So far crews have encountered no explosives.

Officials say more than 127 active wildfires are burning in Florida, and since the start of the year, there have been more than 2,100 fires that have burned 107,000 acres.

Easterly winds ranging about 10-15 mph were carrying the toasty scent toward Tampa Bay, Gilmore said. And as winds remained relatively breezy, the smell will stuck around throughout the morning.

To see current active wildfires, check out the Florida Forest Service's interactive map.

The Avon Park wildfire we could smell from Tampa Bay now 50 percent contained 05/18/17 [Last modified: Thursday, May 18, 2017 5:06pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Rays waste repeated opportunities in 5-3 loss to Blue Jays

    The Heater

    TORONTO — Rays manager Kevin Cash made a case for urgency before Thursday's game, in both actions and words, making significant changes to the structure of the lineup and sincere comments about time running short.

    Trevor Plouffe of the Rays reacts as he pops out with the bases loaded in the sixth inning. [Photo by Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images]
  2. Spanish PM voices solidarity with Barcelona

    World

    BARCELONA, Spain — Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy says his country is mourning in solidarity with the city of Barcelona and other cities in Europe that have been hit by deadly extremist attacks.

    An injured person is treated in Barcelona, Spain, Thursday, Aug. 17, 2017 after a white van jumped the sidewalk in the historic Las Ramblas district, crashing into a summer crowd of residents and tourists and injuring several people, police said. [Associated Press]
  3. Confederate statue: Why Bucs, Lightning, Rays took a stand

    Bucs

    They didn't want another Charlottesville.

    Marc Rodriguez, a member of the "Florida Fight for $15" organization, stands in protest along with other activists demanding the Confederate  monument be removed from the old Hillsborough County Courthouse in Tampa. [OCTAVIO JONES   |   Times]
  4. Rep. Larry Ahern gets roughed up by Clearwater City Council

    State Roundup

    It seemed innocuous enough: an "end of session report" from state Rep. Larry Ahern, R-Seminole, to the Clearwater City Council.

    Then Ahern got taken to the woodshed.

    Rep. Larry Ahern is vying for a seat on the Pinellas commission.
  5. Hillsborough County erects wooden barrier to protect Confederate monument from vandalism

    Public Safety

    TAMPA — Hillsborough County workers began constructing a wooden barrier around the base of the Confederate monument by the old county courthouse Thursday evening.

    A Hillsborough County construction crew erects a wooden barrier around the Confederate monument at the old county courthouse Thursday, out of concern about potential vandalism. [Courtesy of WTSP]