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Monday, May 12, 2008

Coastal Florida Residents Evacuated As Officials Battle Wildfires

There are at least four fires in Volusia County and Brevard County, in central Florida, which has forced the evacuations of hundreds of coastal residents as firefighters battles the blazes.
In Brevard County the fire damaged more than 1,900 acres and shut down the main Interstate 95, which was reopened this morning. One home was lost in Brevard at this time.

In Cocoa, two separate brush fires were blamed for power outages and damaged more than 250 acres of land. 120 families were evacuated while firefighters worked to bring the fire under control and the families have been allowed to return although firefighters are still hunting for hot spots. Two vacant buildings were destroyed and one paving business was damaged.

Winds of up to 40 mph stoked the fires that burned nearly 3,000 acres in the two counties, forcing authorities to evacuate at least 400 homes in Cocoa, Palm Bay and Daytona Beach, where residents had little time to pack up important belongings and flee.

Shelters were opened in both counties.

CNN is reporting that a state trooper says that visibility on the reopened Interstate was was less than 10 feet.

In Volusia County, near Daytona Beach, firefighters moved 300 animals from their shelter to a nearby fairground for safety.

According to state Division of Forestry spokesman, Timber Weller, windy dry conditions are making the job of keeping the fire under control even harder and he says, "Control is extremely difficult, and there's basically several small subdivisions in the area and fires burning, in some cases, very close to the homes."

Officials in Palm Bay say that the fires in Brevard County were of "suspicious origin."

My Fox Orlando has a photo gallery of these devastating fires.

Fox also reports that there is a reward of $10,000 has been set for information that will lead to the arrest and conviction of the person or person responsible. Anyone with information is asked to contact the Central Florida CRIMELINE at 1-800-423-TIPS.