Indian Lake Estates brush fire burns 600 acres, mandatory evacuation in place overnight

POLK COUNTY, Fla. (WFLA) – Florida Forest Service personnel are on scene of a brush fire in Indian Lake Estates.

Polk County Fire Rescue confirmed all of Indian Lake Estates is under a mandatory evacuation due to the fire. The fire is affecting Ponce De Leon Road, Winter Haven Road, Magnolia Road and Red Grange Road.

There are 800 homes in the area, as well as 8,000 lots.

The fire has burned 600 acres so far, according to the Florida Forest Service. Crews could  not say how much of the fire is contained.

Crews will reassess the fire Saturday at noon to determine the status of the mandatory evacuation order based on conditions.

Fire Rescue confirms several structures have been lost, including a shed at a home. The Indian Lake Estates maintenance shed is a total loss as well.

Firefighters need residents to leave the area so they can protect structures.

Everyone is asked to avoid the area as the Florida Forest Service creates a fire line plow to stop the fire from reaching homes.

The American Red Cross has opened a shelter for evacuees at the First Presbyterian Church of Lake Wales. The address is 305 East Central Avenue in Lake Wales.

One man was taken from the scene after passing out.

There is no information on any other injuries to residents or firefighters.

Officials are asking for the public’s help. If anyone has any information if anyone was involved in the fire, you are asked to call 1-800-342-5869.

The Florida Forest Service will be investigating if the fire is actually criminal in nature.

Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd was on scene for a 10 p.m. press conference Friday night.

“Our hearts break, because we see homes surrounded by fire,” said Judd. “Fire that’s raging 100, 150 feet in the air.”

Judd also addressed the possibility the fire was caused by an arsonist.

“If someone is setting those fires, we will find out who they are, and will we put them in jail. That’s a promise,” Judd said.

“I can tell the arsonist. You see this fire? It’s hot. We’re going to be a lot hotter on you until we get you in jail. Don’t sleep. Don’t relax. Because, we are on you, and it’ll be hotter than this fire until you’re locked up in jail.”

Back in February, more than 4,000 acres burned near Indian Lake Estates. Firefighters said it was the worst fire they’d ever seen.

Stay with WFLA.com as more information becomes available on this developing story.

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