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Two raging brush fires merge in Southwest Florida

The flames have spread across roughly 8,500 acres in Collier County.
Credit: Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services

NAPLES, Fla. — A wildfire burning in Southwest Florida is pushing people out of their homes and temporarily caused a major interstate to shut down.

The Florida Forestry Service said two large fires merged, and the fires have spread out across roughly 8,500 acres.

The fires were aided by high winds and extremely low humidity, according to fire officials. Some rain since has helped, but firefighters say, they are not in the clear just yet. 

As of Friday evening, the situation was only about 40 percent contained.

Fire officials report that the Red Cross has been deployed after seven homes and 23 outside structures were lost to the fire. 

According to CBS affiliate WINK, embers from the fire burning on the north side of Alligator Alley sparked the fire to the south late Wednesday night.

The fires briefly shut down a tolled portion of I-75. The area has since reopened.

“Due to the elevated fire threat across the state, I urge all residents to be aware, exercise caution and avoid outdoor burning,” Erin Albury, State Forester and Director of the Florida Forest Service said. “We are in the peak of our year-round fire activity, and current weather conditions will only add to the existing fire danger.”

The cause of the fire is still under investigation. 

The Florida Forest Service reported that already in 2020, the state has seen 1,186 wildfires. Just last week wildfires raged in the Panhandle and forced more than 1,000 people to evacuate their homes. 

The current wildfires are fast moving, fueled by low humidity and unfavorable wind conditions. Please listen to public service announcement from #greaternaplesfirerescuedistrict #Colliercountysheriffsoffice and #CollierCounty for the most up to date information.

Posted by Greater Naples Fire Rescue District on Wednesday, May 13, 2020

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