Firefighters Get Everglades Fire Under Control
A wildfire that burned across 1,300 acres of marshes near Everglades National Park, and threatened to ignite a muck fire in dried out wetlands, was mostly out Monday.
Firefighters extinguished about 70 percent of the fire that ignited April 19. The fire burned about 770 acres inside park boundaries and 515 acres along its border, said spokeswoman Alyson Gantt.
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Because the park remains unusually dry, firefighters will continue to work fire breaks along the perimeter, she said. Airplanes will also continue to patrol from above.
Fire behavior on the Sunday Afternoon Fire in Everglades National Park has significantly diminished. Firefighters will continue to monitor this area until substantial rainfall extinguishes the remaining hot spots.https://t.co/e91m5CM4jI— Everglades National Park (@EvergladesNPS) April 25, 2020
NPS Video by Scott Bishaw/Greg Suszek pic.twitter.com/LU7QHyeGHx
As the fire burned last week, park officials worried that a dangerous muck fire would ignite dried-out peat. Low rainfall across all 16 counties in the South Florida Water Management District set a new record in March. Everglades marshes were among the driest areas, with groundwater levels across large swaths of the eastern Everglades nearly 2.5 feet below ground level.
It takes about 100 years to form just three inches of peat, so fires can ravage dried-out marshes. Without peat, sawgrass can’t grow in deep water, which can then enlarge and speed up the marsh’s collapse.
To help stop the fires, water managers pumped water from the nearby C-31 canal to soak marshes.
Investigators are still looking into what caused the fire, Gantt said. No lightning strikes were recorded when it ignited, she said, so they suspect it was likely intentionally or accidentally set.