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Firefighters Struggle To Control Raging West Dade Brush Fire

MIAMI (CBS4) -Wednesday night, ash from a raging brush fire in western Miami-Dade fell like snow on the Miccosukee Indian Village on Old Tamiami Trail.

"It's really weird," said Manny Fernandez who manages a store in the village.

As of late Monday night, early Tuesday morning, the fire had spread to both sides of Krome Avenue which remains closed from SW 8th Street to Okeechobee Road. The fire, which has burned for the last four day, has scorched 28,000 acres. As of Wednesday night, fire crews had only contained about 25 percent of it.

Fernandez and Carlos Cabrera, who works as an alligator wrestler, said they're a little worried seeing the thick black smoke off in the distance inching closer.

"If it gets worse I'll have to talk to my manager to see what to do," said Fernandez, "The first thing is safety."

"It's bad for business," said Cabrera, "It's bad for the workers."

Their concerns are valid, according to state Department of Forestry Deputy Chief David Utley who said the village's one hundred residences, the entrance to Everglades National Park and several air boat businesses could wind up in the fire's path if the wind shifts to the north even slightly.

"We are going to be looking at that today," said Utley, "We'll be doing structural triage should the fire come in on them.

More than 50 firefighters from the forestry department and Miami-Dade Fire Rescue are throwing everything they have at the wildfire which is now threatening Tamami Trail; strong winds and extremely dry conditions are hampering their efforts.

"In 25 years of looking at fire behavior in the Everglades I've never seen this extreme behavior, it's directly related to the drought we're in right now," said Utley.

"It's going to take rain to make this thing go away, so that we can all go home and get some rest," said David Crane of the Division of Forestry.

Due to the significant amount of smoke created by the brush fire, Miami-Dade Fire Rescue reminds residents that unnecessary exposure to it should be avoided. Residents should also limit physical exertion if exposure to smoke cannot be avoided.

Individuals with cardiovascular or respiratory conditions, pregnant women, the very young and the elderly are urged to limit their exposure to the smoke.


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