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Smoke from wildfire in Polk County reaches Manatee County

MANATEE -- Does it smell like something rotten is burning outside in Manatee County?

If you can sense that, then chances are you are smelling the smoke coming from a wildfire in Polk County, a Florida Forest Service official said Friday morning.

"You cannot mistake this kind of smell," said Lisa Frank, duty officer supervisor for the Florida Forest Service in Polk County.

Frank said a 980-acre muck fire started in Catfish Creek Preserve State Park in Haines City on Tuesday as a result of a lightning. The fire has been contained but is still actively burning, she said.

Winds blowing from the northeast to the southwest have most likely carried the smoke to Manatee County, she said.

Muck fires are below surface burning of dead vegetated debris and can go on for an average of three months, Frank said. There is also active burning above ground, she said.

Frank said muck fires are hard to put out unless it rains, so this fire "will be around for a while."

"Unless we get some rain it's not going anywhere," she said.

Ernie Jillson, meteorologist with the National Weather Service, said that for most people the smell of the smoke may not be a problem. He recommended that those with respiratory problems remain indoors in a building with a good ventilation system.

"During the day the smoke should become less noticeable," Jillson said. "But it could then come back over night."

A prescribed burn, or the burning of overgrowth vegetation on purpose to help control fires in the future, also took place Thursday in Myakka River State Park, Jillson said.

Jon Robinson, park manager at Myakka River State Park, said another prescribed burn was in effect Friday but it was "highly unlikely" that smoke from that burning would affect Manatee County. The northeast to southwest winds did not carry the smoke from the park into the Bradenton area, he said.