Dense smoke across South Florida forces health warning; U.S. 27 reopens

Posted by MARC R. MASFERRER on June 9, 2014 

The smoke -- heavy in Miami Beach, downtown Miami, West Miami-Dade and along the I-95 and 826 corridors -- also is cutting visibility on the roads. CARL JUSTE / MIAMI HERALD STAFF

From the Bradenton Herald

Smoke from a brush fire spread across South Florida Monday morning, leading to health advisories, dense smoke warnings and reduced visibility on the roads.

The fire started in western Broward on Saturday night from a lightning strike.

As of Monday morning, people with respiratory issues were being told to stay indoors, and anyone driving is being warned to use caution.

“It’s been many years that I have seen smoke this thick in the urban areas due to wildfires,” said Scott Peterich, a spokesman with the Florida Forest Service. 

Northbound U.S. 27 from Interstate 75 in Broward reopened about 9 a.m. after being shut down for almost 24 hours.

Florida Highway Patrol spokesman Sgt. Mark Wysocky said “visibility had improved,” in the morning, but the department was “monitoring the situation.”

If we need to shut down again, we will,” he said.

Peterich said the fire began Sunday afternoon when lighting struck a conservation area that is west of U.S. 27 and north of Interstate 75.

“We have been getting a lot of lightening strikes without rain,” he said.

As of Sunday evening about 2,500 acres had burned. A plane was expected to fly over the fire Monday to get a more accurate figure.

Peterich said that a combination of variable winds and low dispersion — which means the smoke is staying low to the ground —is causing haziness from West Palm Beach to Miami.

Bob Ebaugh, a weather specialist with the National Weather Service in Miami-Dade, said a dense smoke advisory was in effect until 10 a.m.

He said afternoon rain was expected and could help quell the fire, as long as lightning doesn’t worsen the problem.

“Hopefully the heavy rains will dampen the fire,” he said.

Meanwhile, everyone may want to stay inside as much as possible until the smoke dissipates. The Broward Health Department on Monday put out a warning to take "precautions during this period of increased air pollution levels due to wildfires."

"Smoke from wildfires may cause coughing, a scratchy throat, irritated sinuses, shortness of breath, chest pain, headaches, stinging eyes and a runny nose," the department warns.

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