Large fire season is also expected to start earlier and the number of large fires—defined as fires greater than 12,355 acres, like the Sawgrass Fire—are expected to become more common for the region. Fires in the western U. S. are projected to get even worse, as well.
Fire managers are watching the fire to ensure it doesn’t get further out of control as well as any changes in wind direction that could steer smoke toward the highway and the Fort Lauderdale-Miami metro area to the east. “What we’re waiting for is a significant amount of rain on it to put the fire out,” Peterich said.
Scott Peterich, wildlife mitigation specialist with the Florida Forest Service’s Everglades District, told Earther the blaze is burning on state managed land, largely through sawgrass ubiquitous throughout the Everglades and cattails.
Some of the Everglades, for example, have seen a top 10 dry start to the year after only receiving less than a quarter of their normal rainfall, according to statistics kept by the Southeast Regional Climate Center.
Ahead of the first presidential debate in Miami on Wednesday, part of the Everglades about 30 miles northwest of downtown caught fire.
Lightning sparked the brush fire on Sunday, and it’s since been burning largely out of control with fire managers saying they’ll need to wait for rain to put the thing out.
A large fire sparked up on state land in December last year, and firefighters used a 30,000 acre controlled burn this spring to mimic nature this spring.
As of Tuesday morning, the fire—dubbed the Sawgrass Fire—had consumed about 18,500 acres and was about 23 percent contained, according to the National Interagency Fire Center.
Peterich said that’s in part why the fire has been putting up so much smoke.