Hernando wildfire creating smoky conditions at Withlacoochee Preserve

HERNANDO COUNTY, Fla. (WFLA) — In Hernando County near the Withlacoochee Preserve, smoke and flames were visible for miles throughout the weekend.
Diane Davignon worried she and her husband would be forced to leave their home.

“It was scary. It was really frightening. I thought we were going to be evacuated and everything and I have my dog and my husband he just got over a stroke,” said Davignon.

The smoke surrounded their home, but Florida Division of Forestry firefighters along with Hernando County firefighters have been able to keep the wildfire contained to the preserve.

“It was terrible, the cars had ashes on it and the smell, I couldn’t go out,” said Davignon.

The division of forestry believes the fire began with a lightning strike and then smoldered for two days before someone reported it.

“When we got here, it was two acres. That night we had a lot of winds and a lot of gusts, those gusts blew embers about a hundred yards, so that fire grew,” said Judy Tear with the Florida Forest Service.

Over the weekend a Chinook helicopter dropped more than 136,000 gallons of water onto the fire. A forest service Huey helicopter dropped and additional 31,000 gallons of water.

The forest service says the helicopters have been extremely helpful because getting to the fire on the ground is difficult.

“It’s difficult for us to get our dozers into that area cause it’s very wet, so we have a difficult time plowing that out. When it catches on fire, it kind of smolders a little bit and kind of snakes through that marsh, so that’s what we are watching is the top burn,” said Tear.

Monday afternoon, the forest service reported the fire has consumed nearly 11,000 acres, but is more than 75% contained and not a threat to any homes or buildings.

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