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West Dade Brush Fire Rages On, MDFR Recommends Residents Evacuate

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MIAMI (CBS4) – Looking like a fiery snake from above, a raging brush fire in west Miami-Dade has burned more than 35,000 acres, but the fire is burning away from a cluster of homes in a Miccosukee tribal village. At one point, the fire was just 40 feet away from the homes.

The Miami-Dade Fire Rescue and the the Florida Division of Forestry recommended, with the help of Miccosukee Police Department, that the residents of the area evacuate due to the fire impacting their homes.  MDFR said they have units protecting the property and the Div. of Forestry lit a counter fire Thursday afternoon. That kept the blaze away from the homes.

The homes are on Miccosukee land, so while firefighters may ask them to evacuate, the residents don’t have to because the Miccosukee is a sovereign nation.

As of Thursday morning, more than 50 firefighters from the state’s forestry division and Miami-Dade Fire Rescue had only contained about 50 percent of it. Although firefighters have said repeatedly that the fire won’t be allowed to threaten any homes, they are leaving nothing to chance.

“We’re still very concerned about them,” Chief David Utley of the Florida Division of Forestry said. “We are very concerned about anything around this fire right now because we’ve seen such extreme fire behavior and then when we thought we had it contained it has come out at us again. “

Utley said they are “cautiously optimistic at this point, but everything could change depending on the wind speed and the wind direction today.”

But, Scott Peterich of the Florida Division of Forestry said the fire “is very healthy for the Everglades.”

“The Everglades were made to burn, and this area hasn’t had a good burn in 25 years,” Peterich said.

Peterich said the fire does no ecological damage to the area.

“The deer and other wildlife know how to get out of the way,” Peterich noted.

But, as the fire continues to grow, the hope is for rain. As of Thursday morning, Mother Nature wasn’t cooperating.

Firefighters hoped a disorganized low pressure area in the Caribbean would bring the much-needed rainy season to South Florida and douse the fires, but so far it hasn’t happened.

“It is going to take rain to make this thing go away so we can all go home and get some rest,” said David Crane with the forestry division.

Peterich said when the rains do eventually come, “the area will come back more healthy and vibrant than ever.”

As the fire spreads to the south, residents and business owners along the Tamiami Trail say they’re concerned as they watch the black smoke from the fire inch closer.

“None of those houses are being threatened at this time,” said Crane. “They are all in good shape and we have plans to protect them.”

The fire isn’t a threat to any people as of Thursday morning. It will only become a concern if the winds shift out of the west. If that happens it could blanket the city with smoke.

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