MIAMI (CBSMiami) – A brush fire in the Everglades that sent smoke and ash swirling across South Florida continues to spread.

Forestry officials said lightning sparked the fire Saturday night north of I-75 and west of U.S. 27, by Monday the flames had burned approximately 19,500 acres of the conservation area.

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“There’s a lot of burnable fuel out there it just spread, meandered through these everglades,” Said Scott Peterich with the Florida Forest Service. “Our objective is to keep it confined to that area so as it burns we just don’t want it to get out. ”

Monday night fire crews focused on keeping the flames away from power lines.

Watch Gaby Fleischman’s report, click here.

“Fire and heavy, dense smoke does not mix well with high voltage power lines so Florida Power and Light has been out here all day and been monitoring it to take evasive actions if they have to,” said Peterich.

Heavy smoke shut down U.S. 27 from I-75 to South Bay in Palm Beach County Sunday afternoon, and has since re-opened to traffic. The Florida Highway Patrol says they will monitor the area overnight into Tuesday. If conditions become hazardous, another shut down could occur.

“It’s for driver safety,” said Mark Wysocky with FHP. “You know when you mix the fog and smoke together it can be a very dangerous situation on the roadways.”

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The National Weather Service issued a dense smoke advisory for Palm Beach, Broward and Miami-Dade counties which expired at noon on Monday. People with respiratory issues were advised to remain indoors until conditions improve.

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“It was very smoky and hazy,” said West Broward resident Charles Ponz. “You could hardly see and there are little particles on the cars.”

Many residents in South Florida woke up Monday to ashes blanketing their cars.

“I just thought it was pollen but then a guy said its ash from a fire…” said Laure Watson, a Weston resident.

Cruises at Port Miami were backed up due to visibility issues, ships forced to float around until conditions cleared.

Watch Marybel Rodriguez’s report, click here.

The air quality also prompted officials to ask residents to stay indoors—especially those with respiratory issues.

“I think the right thing to do is stay indoors, not to expose yourself to this kind of air,” said Dr. Nabil El Sanadi with Broward Health.   “Any issues of feeling like there is respiratory compromise, wheezing, shortness of breath, feeling faint, feeling dizzy, not being able to catch your breath, seek medical attention.”


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