Firefighters battle brush fires in East Orange County

- Orange County saw two huge wildfires today. Combined, nearly 270 acres burned, in fires that forestry officials say were probably set by people.

Thick black smoke almost blocked out the sun in Bithlo. Nelson Camargo got a shock when he came home this afternoon.

“What's happening here? Why are all these fire trucks and newscasters in front of the house?” Camargo asked, “what didn't someone tell me?”

125 acres was burning in his backyard. Forestry officials say it was just twenty acres that had been burning over the last four days. Around noon today, the flames jumped the fire line and spread - literally - like wildfire.

“We were told there was one home threatened,” Sean Gallagher, of the Florida Forest Service explained, “and as you see, it's burning close to that large radio tower, as well.”

The fire is now ninety percent contained. Orange County Fire was helping fight the flames and watched the spread from the skies. Gallagher says dry conditions these months contribute to forest fires. Without any lighting to blame it on, it's likely started by people.

“A car sitting on the side of the road, the catalytic converter causes a fire, we call that a human-caused fire,” Gallagher said, “just because it's human caused, doesn't mean it's arson or something of that nature.”

Gallagher says they're still investigating how exactly this fire began. Camargo says it's a first.

“It's pretty crazy,” Gallagher said, “we've never had something like that happen in the ten-odd years that I've been here!”

The other big fire was deep in the Hal Scott Regional Preserve, where 140 acres burned. County officials closed-off the preserve for public safety. It's now ninety percent contained - and forestry officials also call it suspicious.
 

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