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. Encounters: Trial by storm for a rookie principal

    K12

    DUNEDIN — When he nodded off to sleep, the hallway lights outside Michael Vasallo's office were on, so the sudden darkness woke him.

    The glow of his desk phone dimmed.

    Michael Vasallo, right, the first-year principal at Dunedin Highland Middle School, talks with the school's head plant operator Clint Case near the back-up generator on campus. The generator failed just as Hurricane Irma passed through Pinellas County, making for a stressful night. The experience made Vasallo long to return to his regular job, educating middle schoolers. [COLEEN WRIGHT   |   Times]


  2. Who is in charge during a hurricane? Hillsborough County and Tampa still can't agree

    Hurricanes

    TAMPA — Who has the authority to order an evacuation during a hurricane?

    Mayor Bob Buckhorn says he has evacuation authority.
  3. Gators rally past Kentucky, streak hits 31

    Blogs

    LEXINGTON, Ky. — For the second week in a row, Florida found itself storming the field in a game that came down to the last second. A 57-yard field-goal attempt by Kentucky kicker Austin MacGinnis came just a few feet short of making history and snapping a 30-year losing streak, as the No. 20 Gators escaped a …

    Florida wide receiver Brandon Powell (4) scores a touchdown during the second half of an NCAA college football game against Kentucky, Saturday, Sept. 23, 2017, in Lexington, Ky.
  4. Pen makes it way too interesting as Rays hang on for 9-6 win

    Blogs

    A couple of home runs provided the news pegs of the night for the Rays, but it was more topical to talk about what nearly happened as they hung on for a 9-6 win over the Orioles.

    Lucas Duda's three-run homer in the third inning was the Rays' record-breaking 217th of the season, as well as his …

  5. An attempt to project what Rays will look like in 2018

    The Heater

    BALTIMORE — We know what the Rays look like this year: a team that had enough talent but too many flaws, in construction and performance, and in the next few days will be officially eliminated from a wild-card race it had a chance to win but let slip away.

    Adeiny Hechavarria, high-fiving Lucas Duda, seems likely to be brought back.