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Faka Union Fire reaches over 10,000 acres in Collier County

Posted at 6:56 PM, Mar 09, 2018
and last updated 2018-03-11 12:06:15-04

A massive wildfire in Picayune Strand State Forest is at 10,446 acres. A spokesman with the Florida Forest Service said the fire is about 90% contained.

The fire has been burning since last Friday, north of U.S. 41 near Port of the Islands, and has caused Florida Highway Patrol to periodically close the highway due to smoke. Businesses at the Port of the Islands Marina are starting to feel the pinch from clustomers who can't get to the marina due to the road closures.

"We had a lot of cancellations because people can't get through," said Mike Randall, who rents boats at the marina. "It's really making things hard on us."

The fire was started as a prescribed burn by the Forest Service that got out of control.

"We got a weird wind shift that was not predicted," said Clark Ryals of the Florida Forest Service. "When that happened, it jumped the line." 

Randall thinks the Forest Service should have known better.

"We are in the windy season, and things can change on a dime," he said.

He said the fire has been dropping ash on homes and boats in the area, and that the smoke sometimes blows into the marina when the wind blows it south. 

"Hopefully the rain that we're supposed to get Saturday and possibly Sunday will take care of this, so we can start fresh on Monday," Randall said.

A Forest Service spokesman said they have all of their local personnel, plus a dozer strike team, working day and night to contain the fire.