Crews battle blaze burning near Orange County homes

'Sabal Fire' burns near Reynolds Parkway-Bancroft Boulevard

By Troy Campbell - Reporter

WEDGEFIELD, Fla. - Crews were working Friday to put out a brush fire burning near Reynolds Parkway-Bancroft Boulevard in Orange County, according to officials.

The fire, which was burning 100 acres Friday afternoon, had been knocked down to 40 acres shortly after 5 p.m., fire officials said in a press conference.

Officials said at least 10 nearby homes were evacuated after the fire, which was named "Sabal Fire," Florida Forest Service officials said. No homes were damaged, fire crews said.

A firefighter was taken to a hospital for heat exhaustion, according to Orange County Fire Rescue.

Lauren Duncan lives near where the fire burned and said she is spending her Friday night assessing the damage to her neighborhood.

"I ended up having to cut through a canal to get to my kids to pick them up from school," Duncan said. "We live all the way at the end of the road and we saw all the smoke, so I came down here with this one and that one. They were like, we are talking about evacuations. You got to get back home. It's jumping the street."

Another neighbor said living in such a rural area of Orange County, she tries to clear debris that could easily burn.

"We try to keep it clear. Once a year, try to get out there and clear all the pine needles, dead stuff. That's the best bet to do to try to keep it from destroying your property," Harmoni Houser said.

Crews said at 5:15 p.m. that residents would likely be able to return to their homes within 30 minutes.

Orange County Fire Rescue crews said the flames burned as close as 20 feet from structures in the area.

The Florida Highway Patrol was at the scene to monitor visibility issues in the area. Troopers said there was light smoke as of 3:43 p.m., but it was not impacting visibility.

FFS officials warned drivers to use caution while traveling in the area and to be aware of smoke and fog the next couple of days.

At 4:44 p.m., the fire was 80 percent contained, fire officials said. Officials said they expect it to be fully contained by 7 p.m.

Fire Rescue crews said firefighters would continue monitoring the flames over night. Lakeland fire officials were also sent to assist with the blaze.

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