PASCO COUNTY, Fla. (WFLA) — Crews in Pasco County continue to battle a massive wildfire that broke out in Starkey Park on Saturday afternoon, and fear the worst has yet to come.
The fire has burned 2,275 acres and officials estimate it’s 70 percent contained. Fire crews do not know what caused it.
On Sunday, forest officials said the lower humidity and higher wind gusts expected on Monday could be even worse for the crews battling the fire.
County officials are asking everyone to remember the burn ban that is in effect, and have also banned open flames in all county parks. They warned the public in a press conference on Sunday to avoid lighting flames and to not throw cigarette butts out the window—a simple butt could start a wildfire, according to officials.
They also responded to a number of complaints about smoke around houses. They said there is nothing they can do other than advise residents to stay indoors, shut all their windows and turn on the air conditioning.
The county ordered voluntary evacuations on Saturday, but rescinded the order last night, and say no voluntary evacuations will take place tonight, given that no homes are in danger.
The county says it’s not looking for any food donations, but will be accepting water, Gatorade, chapstick, sunscreen, bug spray and any non-perishable snacks. The Salvation Army will be coordinating the donations at the front entrance to Starkey Park.
The park remains closed at this time. County officials have canceled camping through Thursday, May 11. Bike and hiking trails are also closed until further notice.
The Suncoast Parkway and all lanes on Paul S. Buchman Highway at Central Avenue have reopened.
An official with the Florida Forest Service said on Saturday that the county reported 53 fires in the month of April. Last year only 13 fires were reported. She said things will only get worse and that residents need to have “go kits” in place.
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