Firefighters by Wednesday hope to bring under control a wildfire that burned at least 20 acres on Egmont Key.
A prescribed burn was underway Tuesday morning when a lightning strike started a second fire, according to Lealman Fire Rescue.
Buckets of water were being dropped by a Florida Park Service helicopter by 6 p.m. Tuesday in an effort to contain the spreading fire.
The Florida Department of Environmental Protection received word of the fire about 10:30 a.m.
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The fire was smoldering when firefighters arrived, according to fire management officer Greg Titus with U.S. Fish and Wildlife.
The blaze, which produced a plume of smoke visible from Manatee County and other surrounding areas is located in the center of the island, north of the harbor pilots complex.
“There is no immediate danger to any structures at this time,” Titus said.
Four firefighters with the Florida Park Service were battling the blaze. Titus said late Tuesday afternoon that two firefighters from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and two firefighters with the Florida Forest Service were en route.
A U.S. Fish and Wildlife helicopter arrived to allow officials to assess the fire and begin some bucket drops, according to Titus. It was delayed a bit by bad weather in the Crystal Springs area.
“It may be contained today, we are hopeful,” Titus said.
By Wednesday they hope to have the fire controlled but it will not be deemed “out” until the island gets some rain.
Earlier, the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office coordinated an effort to transport firefighters from the Lealman Fire District to Egmont Key, according to Fire Chief Richard Graham. They had been unable to reach the park ranger on the phone so their first concern was to locate him.
Lealman said they arrived on scene and were able to complete the welfare check but that state and federal firefighters would be handling the fire, they were told.
“It was supposed to be a prescribed burn,” he said. “However, they had a lightning strike that started a secondary fire.”
In a Tuesday afternoon tweet, U.S. Fish and Wildlife said, "USFWS and FLDEPNews (Florida Department of Environmental Protection) firefighters are responding to a wildfire on Egmont Key NWR. Fire is less than .1 acre and smoldering."
No injuries were reported, and no further information was immediately available.
Bay News 9 contributed to this story.