All I-95 lanes open in Indian River Co. - Fox29 WFLX TV, West Palm Beach, FL-news & weather

All I-95 lanes open in Indian River Co.

INDIAN RIVER COUNTY, FL (WFLX) - Motorists are advised to use caution Friday morning while driving on Interstate 95 through Indian River County as smoky conditions are expected and firefighters remain at work in the area after a Thursday afternoon brush fire.
S.R. 60 interchange at I-95

Northbound I-95 lanes lanes between the Vero Beach and Sebastian/Fellsmere exits finally reopened just before midnight after the fire forced their closure throughout the day and evening. Southbound lanes reopened at 9 p.m.

For most of Thursday, the roadway was closed from a brush fire on northbound I-95 and a fatal crash at southbound I-95 at the Vero Beach exit. As of 9 p.m. Thursday, the fire had blazed through an estimated 365 acres on both sides of the interstate and was 70 percent contained, said Melissa Yunas, state Division of Forestry spokeswoman.

The events begin late Thursday morning when officials began receiving reports that smoke from a brush fire on northbound I-95 about 5 miles north of the Vero Beach exit was impeding visibility. Embers from that fire blew onto dry brush at nearby Corrigan Ranch, causing a second fire, Yunas said.

Emergency crews also responded to a fatal crash on southbound I-95 about 1 miles north of the Vero Beach interchange early Thursday afternoon.

About 1:23 p.m. a 2003 Buick SUV driven by Carolyn J. Mond, 60, of Fort Pierce, was traveling south in the outside lane when she attempted to change lanes but saw there was a vehicle in that lane, according to an FHP crash report. Mond lost control of the vehicle, crossing over the west shoulder before hitting two small pine trees and a larger pine tree, the report states.

Mond and her front-seat passenger Terrell A. Mond, 25, of Fort Pierce, were flown to Lawnwood Regional Medical Center & Heart Institute in Fort Pierce. A backseat passenger, Jerrell A. Mond, 25, of Fort Pierce, was dead at the scene, the report states.

It took firefighters about two hours to extricate the victims, Assistant Fire Chief Brian Burkeen said.

Later Thursday evening, a lightning bolt struck in the area the firefighters were working, but did not hit anyone, Yunas said. Indian River County Fire Rescue quickly put out the fire sparked by the bolt, she said.

Dry conditions continue to plague the area as the U.S. Drought Monitor on Thursday added St. Lucie and Indian River counties to its list of "exceptional drought" areas.

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