Two wildfires in Collier County have merged into one massive fire. The 116th Avenue Fire merged with the Greenway Fire on Monday, according to the Florida Forest Service. By 5:45 p.m., the fire had already jumped over U.S. 41 and burned about 30 acres. No structures were threatened, but U.S. 41 was closed between San Marco Road and Port of the Islands as firefighters worked to contain the spot fire.
Forest Service spokeswoman Samantha Quinn said winds from the north spread the fire south toward the Seminole Indian Village near U.S. 41 and San Marco Road, in the Collier-Seminole State Forest.
"So we have multiple agencies on scene doing structure defense," Quinn said.
Smoke from the fires has been plaguing Collier County for days, causing U.S. 41 and Interstate 75 to be closed a number of times due to smoke over the roads.
Ash from the fires has been found as far north as Lee County. Communities in southern Collier County - such as Reflection Lakes near Collier Boulevard - are seeing big chunks of ash.
"We have some as big as silver dollars or bigger in my driveway," said Reflection Lakes resident James Morris.
Quinn said busy wildfire season in Southwest Florida has required help from outside the area.
"We've had strike teams from across the state come down to help fight these fires," she said. "So we're grateful for everyone putting their lives on the line to help contain these wildfires."