800-acre brush fire in Martin County 100% contained, Florida Forest Service says

Published: Mar. 23, 2023 at 3:15 PM EDT
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An 800-acre fire in the Hungryland Trails area of Martin County has been 100% contained, but it hasn’t been extinguished, the Florida Forest Service said late Thursday.

Around 10 p.m., the state agency said it was totally contained. At 8:30 p.m., the fire was 50% contained.

Florida Forest Service and Martin County Fire Rescue crews were battling the fire, which was first reported around 3 p.m. Thursday when it was only about 50 acres. The fire grew and since spread near Southwest Pratt Whitney Road in Stuart.

Martin County Fire Rescue said in a tweet that RV camps on the property have been evacuated. Four bulldozers and an airplane are being used to extinguish the blaze.

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Aerials showed flames and smoke billowing from the brush fire that could be seen miles away in Palm Beach County.

Martin County Sheriff's Office is on scene and various fire departments are monitoring nearby structures, homes and campers to provide protection to those properties and avoid any damage.

Crews were worried the flames may continue spreading to the hunting sites.

"They've got enough people out there," John Jeritza, who was forced to evacuate, said. "We've made the calls."

Jeritza added "that block where the fire is at is pretty much a block that people hunt in that people have owned from the '70s”

Officials said current weather conditions, including low humidity, winds and lack of rain, are contributing factors that have made it difficult to contain, including embers spreading the fire faster.

"Keep in mind that it's not only been hot today, several weeks we haven't had any rain," Florida Forest Service spokesman Miguel Nevarez said. "That's been a really big factor into this particular fire because everything out there is so dry and the vegetation is so high that the spread of the fire itself increases.

Nevarez said the cause of the fire has not been determined.

"We're going to make sure we contain it first and then worry about what caused it after," he said.

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