Heavy smoke is engulfing all of southwest Florida due to a 30,000-acre wildfire near the Florida-Georgia state line, the Florida Forest Service said.
Current wind directions are blowing the smoke from the fire in Columbia County toward southwest Florida counties, including Manatee and Sarasota, said Forest Service duty officer Chase Vannostrand.
"It's throughout the whole district," Vannostrand said. "Hopefully, we'll get a different wind direction."
National Weather Service meteorologist Colleen Rhey said the smoke is spilling out into the Gulf of Mexico and then heading toward Pinellas and Hillsborough counties, from where the smoke continues to spread into Manatee County.
"With no place to go, it just starts expanding out," she said.
The smoke was expected to lift by noon, but because of light wind conditions the smoke will "dissipate slowly until we get that afternoon sea breeze," which will move the smoke faster, Rhey said.
"It's pretty nasty out there, I hear," said Rhey.