Jacksonville, FL - Get used to some smokey conditions around Tillie Fowler Regional Park on the Westside.
The Florida Forest Service Jacksonville says, because the fire is in a marshy area that’s hard to access, they’re focusing their efforts on the fire edges. On one side, the Park’s Island Trail is closed to the public, and FFS Jacksonville is using that to help with containment.
As of 10am Thursday, the fire was 50% contained.
“We’ve got some firefighters with blowers, backpack blowers and some hand tools, and they’re blowing off those trails so we can secure them, and they’ll work as a fire break,” says FFS Jax Wildfire Mitigation Specialist Annaleasa Winter.
Due to the fire currently burning in the area, State Forestry has closed the Island trail at Tillie Fowler Regional Park until further notice. Stay tuned to the City of Jacksonville social media channels for further updates. pic.twitter.com/bQ03vkKQuu— City of Jacksonville (@CityofJax) May 15, 2019
Watching Forestry 24 on @Spidertracks at the #OrtegaRiverFire. The @FLForestService Huey made 51 drops totaling 14,025 gallons of water! Can you tell where he got the water? A little excitement behind the Target on Hwy 17 today! https://t.co/KmiIIqE5Gf pic.twitter.com/10ApcVHZRR— FFS_Jacksonville (@FFS_Jax) May 15, 2019
On the other side of the fire, it’s not very well defined and it’s difficult for crews to get to, so a helicopter is being used to drop water from above every few minutes. The good news, according to Winter, is they don’t expect the fire to grow much beyond the 38.3 acres they currently have it measured as. She says it is largely organic material that’s smoldering and smoking at this time, as opposed to a lot of active flames.
“Until those edges are totally secured and we feel like it’s not going anywhere, we’re gunna continue to be out here working and mopping it up,” she says.
Winter says they believe this fire was started by lightning on Sunday, and slowly picked up until the smoke became noticeable on Tuesday. She says the smokey conditions will likely persist for several days, because of those smoldering areas in the interior that they can’t get to.
The fire is south of Timuquana and across Roosevelt from NAS Jacksonville. The base is warning drivers to use caution because smoke can limit visibility on the roads, while also encouraging everyone to be aware of the impact on air quality.
Due to the fire in Tillie K. Fowler Park across from the base, use caution while driving on Roosevelt Blvd. and aboard the station. Air quality is poor, so be aware if doing outdoor activities today.Posted by NAS Jacksonville on Wednesday, May 15, 2019
Rain is not expected to help this scene, because we’re in a more-than week-long projected dry stretch in Jacksonville. Winter says that is especially challenging, because we’re getting in to the peak of wildfire season overall.
“Fire danger will be increasing every day without rain,” she says.
At this point, she says fires are mainly caused by people, although as afternoon storms start to kick in, lightning will also contribute.