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Central Florida Tries to Contain Brush Fires

From Associated Press

After dozens of buildings were destroyed by weekend fires in tinder-dry forest and brush in Central Florida, authorities worried Sunday that winds would fan the flames further.

Although fires in the worst-hit areas were contained by late Sunday afternoon, firefighters continued to work on hot spots.

Meanwhile, residents began filtering back to survey the damage.

“It looks like something from hell,” said Bob March, who escaped from Palm Coast with his wife, four children and their dog. “I lost everything, all of my pictures.”

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The fires erupted Saturday, feeding on forests parched by weeks of drought. Hundreds of people fled to emergency shelters, and about a 30-mile stretch of Interstate 95 was shut down for hours during the night, backing up traffic on the state’s main north-south route.

The forecast was for continued hot, dry weather, although a few thunderstorms did pop up Sunday.

“The humidity is dropping, and there is a high risk of embers moving with the winds,” said Liz Compton, spokeswoman for the state Agriculture Department. “It may look beautiful out there, but it’s no good for fire.”

Gov. Lawton Chiles issued an order Sunday allowing the National Guard to be mobilized if needed.

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Most of the damage from Sunday’s blazes was in Flagler and Seminole counties in east-central Florida, and homes also were damaged in St. Johns County. More fires struck Duval, Lake and Brevard counties.


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