MIAMI (CBS4) – A raging brush fire continues to burn in West Miami-Dade. As of Saturday, it has charred more than 58,500 acres and a stretch of Krome Avenue from the Tamiami Trail to Okeechobee Road remains closed.
Forestry officials said that as of 9 a.m. Saturday the fire was about 60 percent contained, but that was before Saturday afternoon’s rain. The rain is helping to contain the fire, CBS4’s Silva Harapetian said. Officials are counting on a canal running along the north side of the Tamiami Trail to help keep the fire contained and from crossing the road.
Firefighter Dan Herrera with the Miami-Dade Fire Rescue Department said the wind is affecting smoky conditions.
“We are expecting smoky conditions for some areas of the county due to the change in wind direction,” he said.
The wind is moving the fire to the west. Officials are lighting “back fires,” which allows them to create a barrier to contain the fire.
On Saturday midday, the fire was headed in the direction towards the Miami canal, which is near Mack’s Fish Camp in Miramar. Harapetian said there were some evacuations at the camp and some boats were moved.
MDFD spoke with the camp of the possible danger.
Still, business owners and residents around the fire are understandably nervous and are hoping for rain.
“So far, it hasn’t crossed over Tamiami, but if it crosses, then I have to worry about my place,” said business owner Jesse Kennon.
Kennon has been watching the wildfire get closer and closer to some of his air boats. The unpredictability of the fire has left Jesse and other residents crossing their fingers.
“If the wind starts out of the north, it can blow across the road and you’re going to have another fire started in another area,” Kennon said.
“Actually, I didn’t know the fire was this close,” said Larry Noblic.
He and his family were caught off guard by the fire. They had been looking forward to taking an air boat ride.
“My brother-in-law is coming from Brazil and he’d been wanting to ride the air boat for a while,” Noblic said. “So I bought tickets; purchased them on-line and didn’t know the fire was close.”
While the fire, which started almost a week ago on Sunday afternoon, appears to be quite devastating, 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.
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.”
The fire will only become a concern if the winds shift out of the west. If that happens it could blanket the city with smoke.
Still, for Kennon, it’s too close for comfort.
“Been here on and off as a child seen all kinds of fires, droughts, hurricanes, this is the worst since 1989,” Kennon said.