Starkey Park wildfire burning 2,275 acres, 50 percent contained

PASCO COUNTY, Fla. (WFLA) — The Suncoast Parkway and Starkey Park remain closed in Pasco County on Sunday due to a brush fire in the park that broke out on Saturday afternoon.

Sunday morning, the Pasco County Sheriff’s Office said the fire grew to 2,275 acres and is 50 percent contained. Heavy smoke has been reported near Suncoast.

The parked is being evacuated and is closed until further notice to give crews more room to operate.  All camping reservations for Saturday night were canceled.

The Florida Highway Patrol says the Suncoast Trail between SR 52 and SR 54 will remain closed until further notice.  They’re urging motorists to seek alternate routes.  

Officials say the fire quickly grew from 500 to 2,200 acres.  According to the Pasco County Sheriff’s Office, it’s 30 percent contained as of Saturday at 10:30 pm.

No structures are endangered, but Pasco Emergency Management had requested a voluntary evacuation of the Bexley Ranch subdivision, which is east of the Suncoast Parkway, but backed off that approach, officials said in a press conference early Saturday night.

They’re advising residents to monitor media and social media for updates on the fire.

Pasco officials said a burn ban is in place and urged residents to avoid lighting flames.

They say the best way for residents to protect themselves is to create a 30-foot defensible space around their home, meaning they must pick up debris and other things from recent storms that may have fallen to the ground.

This is the second weekend in a row flames have broken out in that area of Pasco County.

Last Sunday, a wildfire broke out on State Road 54 in Odessa and shut down Starkey and the nearby bike trails.

News Channel 8 is tracking this story as it develops and will update this story with new information as soon as it is available.

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