Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

The Avon Park wildfire we could smell from Tampa Bay now 50 percent contained

Folks who smelled smoke while leaving their homes in the immediate Tampa Bay area on Thursday shouldn't have been alarmed. There was no wildfire in their backyard.

There is a fire, but it's close to 100 miles away, if you're coming from St. Petersburg.

The smoky smell has traveled from a 6,000-acre wildfire in the Avon Park Air Force Bombing Range, an area straddling the Highlands-Polk County lines.

The wildfire was 50 percent contained by Thursday afternoon, firefighters said.

"We don't anticipate it leaving the range property," said the range's operations director Buck MacLaughlin.

The fire started in an "active impact area" during a military training session Wednesday, MacLaughlin said. The range has its own crew of firefighters, who are being assisted by the Florida Forest Service.

Because the grounds of the training area could have old explosives used in prior trainings near the ground's surface, crews are back-burning to box the fire in rather than using a bulldozer, MacLaughlin said. Mainly, he said, crews will ensure the fire doesn't spread but allow it to burn out.

So far crews have encountered no explosives.

Officials say more than 127 active wildfires are burning in Florida, and since the start of the year, there have been more than 2,100 fires that have burned 107,000 acres.

Easterly winds ranging about 10-15 mph were carrying the toasty scent toward Tampa Bay, Gilmore said. And as winds remained relatively breezy, the smell will stuck around throughout the morning.

To see current active wildfires, check out the Florida Forest Service's interactive map.

The Avon Park wildfire we could smell from Tampa Bay now 50 percent contained 05/18/17 [Last modified: Thursday, May 18, 2017 5:06pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Here's what you need to know before you buy that Groupon vacation deal

    Travel

    There are times in life that call for caution, for using that chunk of money in savings to renovate the bathroom because the bathroom is from 1974, and not in a cool way.

    ALI DOUGLASS   |   Special to the Times
  2. Zephyrhills selects company to operate planned tennis center

    Local Government

    ZEPHYRHILLS — The Zephyrhills City Council has selected a company whose owner has past ties to the tennis community in Pasco County to run the city's planned center for the sport.

  3. Rays set to activate Tommy Hunter from DL

    Blogs

    The Rays plan to activate RHP Tommy Hunter from the DL for Thursday's series finale against the Angels.

  4. Reporter says Republican candidate in Montana body-slammed him (w/video)

    Nation

    HELENA, Mont. — Witnesses said the Republican candidate for Montana's sole congressional seat body-slammed a reporter Wednesday, the day before the polls close in the nationally watched special election. Authorities said late Wednesday that Greg Gianforte has been cited for misdemeanor assault over incident with …

    Greg Gianforte, right, receives congratulations from a supporter in Helena, Mont., in March. [Associated Press]
  5. Culpepper falls just short on 'Survivor' finale

    Human Interest

    In the end, Tampa lawyer Brad Culpepper fell just short, and the ex-Tampa Bay Buccaneer lost Survivor: Game Changers and the $1 million prize to Sarah Lacina, a police officer from Iowa.