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. No toll lanes north of downtown Tampa in three of four interstate proposals

    Transportation

    TAMPA — Express lanes may not be coming to downtown Tampa after all. Or at least not to the stretch of Interstate 275 that goes north through Bearss Avenue.

    Seminole Heights resident Kimberly Overman discusses the new interstate options with V.M. Ybor resident Chris Vela (left), Hillsborough County Commissioner Pat Kemp and HNTB consultant Chloe Coney during a Tampa Bay Express meeting Monday night at the Barrymore Hotel. [CAITLIN JOHNSTON  |  Times]
  2. No lack of issues facing St. Petersburg's six council candidates

    Elections

    ST. PETERSBURG — The six candidates for City Council gathered Monday evening in the very chamber to which they aspire to serve.

    St. Petersburg City Council candidates (from left)  Brandi Gabbard and Barclay Harless in District 2; Jerick Johnston and incumbent council member Darden Rice in District 4; and Justin Bean and Gina Driscoll of District 6. All six candidates appeared at Monday night's forum at City Hall sponsored by the League of Women Voters. [CHERIE DIEZ   |   Times]

  3. Iraq's Kurds vote on independence, raising regional fears

    World

    IRBIL, Iraq — Iraqi Kurds voted Monday in a landmark referendum on supporting independence, a move billed by the Kurdish leadership as an exercise in self-determination but viewed as a hostile act by Iraq's central government. Neighboring Turkey even threatened a military response.

    People celebrate Monday after voting closed in a referendum on independence in Irbil, Iraq.
  4. North Korean diplomat says Trump has 'declared war'

    War

    UNITED NATIONS — North Korea's top diplomat said Monday that President Donald Trump's weekend tweet was a "declaration of war" and North Korea has the right to retaliate by shooting down U.S. bombers, even in international airspace.

    North Korean Foreign Minister Ri Yong Ho, center, speaks outside the U.N. Plaza Hotel in New York on Monday.
  5. Pinellas grants St. Pete's request to add millions to pier budget

    Local Government

    Times Staff Writer

    The Pinellas County Commission has granted St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman's request to dedicate millions more toward the city's new pier.

    The St. Petersburg City Council on Thursday  voted 7-1 to appropriate $17.6 million for the over-water portion of the Pier District. This is a rendering of what the new Pier District could look like. [Courtesy of St. Petersburg]