Firefighters close to containing 2,600-acre brush fire

HAINES CITY, Fla. - Strong winds blew a central Florida brush fire to 2,600 acres Monday, but firefighters who had been battling the blaze for over two days had it almost contained by evening.

One home burned shortly after the fire broke out Saturday afternoon in a parched rural area about 40 miles southwest of Orlando. Officials said no other homes were threatened Monday and no injuries had been reported.

Division of Forestry duty officer Lori Stone said the blaze was 95 percent contained Monday night. About two dozen firefighters were digging firebreaks and removing excess fuel to stop the spread.

Firefighters had hoped to have the fire contained by Monday evening, but strong winds continued to push the flames, Stone said. The swampy terrain added to firefighters' difficulties, but they said no homes would be threatened if the wind kept blowing from the northeast.

The fire was started by an all-terrain vehicle, possibly from sparks or hot exhaust, said David Cash, Polk County's emergency management director. The county has been excessively dry and was added to the state's list of agricultural disaster areas during the summer because of a prolonged drought.


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