Two large wildfires in Collier County merged overnight, amassing to a 4,000-acre blaze of which fire crews have contained just 10%.
The two wildfires, originally dubbed the 22ndAveFire and the 36thAveFire, broke out Tuesday afternoon on the western edge of the Florida Everglades. The two fires have since merged and the fire is now being reported by authorities as the 36thSEAveFire.
“These are extremely dangerous and fast-moving wildfires that can change rapidly, so everyone in the affected area should follow directions from state and local officials,” said Florida Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried
In response, the Florida Forest Service has deployed three single-engine air tankers, two helicopters, and one fixed-wing aircraft to the area to supplement local fire crews.
The blaze also has the attention of Gov. Ron DeSantis, who announced he will travel to the area Thursday afternoon to be briefed by local emergency management officials.
#MDFR & other partner agencies from #SouthFlorida part of the Engine Strike Team worked through the night in assisting Collier County with protecting people & property from brush fires near the Golden Gate Estates area. pic.twitter.com/NaHis1KycZ
— MDFR (@MiamiDadeFire) May 14, 2020
Residents and motorists are being asked to remain clear of the area as mandatory evacuation orders are in place for areas east of the Collier landfill.
Those at risk or with breathing problems are encouraged to evacuate to one of two sites available in Naples.
The Florida Highway Patrol has also shut down a portion Interstate 75 (Alligator Alley) between mile markers 80 and 101.
“All residents and travelers should heed evacuation orders and closely monitor the media for updates on the wildfire and the status of I-75 and local roads,” Fried said. “We thank our brave local and wildland firefighters for working swiftly to control this wildfire.”
There are currently 73 active wildfires totaling 10,000 acres across the state. Last week, the Florida Forest Service and local fire crews from across the state battled two fires including the 2,000 acres Five Mile Swamp Fire in Santa Rosa County.
An arrest was made Tuesday in connection to the Mussett Bayou wildfire that destroyed 59 homes and 343 acres of wildlands in Walton County.