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Brooker fire resumes, spreads

A second thunderstorm and wind expand the blaze, caused by lightning, to 215 acres at the Brooker Creek Preserve.

Published June 23, 2006

OLDSMAR - Firefighters contained a brush fire at Brooker Creek Preserve Thursday night, despite high winds from another thunderstorm the day before that helped fuel the blaze.

Forestry crews planned to monitor the site overnight and start working to put out any hot spots this morning.

A lightning strike sparked the blaze Tuesday night, and crews had contained it to 60 acres by Wednesday. However, a second thunderstorm Wednesday night brought considerable winds, spreading the fire to 215 acres by Thursday afternoon, Pinellas County spokesman Tom Iovino said.

The burned area was not near buildings or homes, but the new wave of flames sent more smoke into surrounding areas, prompting Pinellas County Schools to send messages home to parents who have children in pre-K programs near the preserve, said school communications coordinator Andrea Zahn.

Because of the smoke, school administrators also kept children inside to play Thursday. Residents with heart and lung problems were urged to stay inside.

Iovino said crews had to plow their way to the fire when it began, but had easier access Thursday.

By about 4 p.m., crews from the Florida Division of Forestry and the county's wildland fire team surrounded the fire with fire breaks to keep the flames from spreading, Iovino said.

The crews also planned on lighting fires to eliminate the small trees and underbrush that fueled the larger blaze, Iovino said.

"It's kind of fighting fire with fire," he said.

[Last modified June 23, 2006, 00:37:05]

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