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Fire in Big Cypress now over 15,000 acres, U.S. 41 closed again

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Posted at 10:20 AM, Mar 23, 2017
and last updated 2017-03-24 07:58:51-04

COLLIER COUNTY, Fla. -- Park officials say the wildfire in Big Cypress National Preserve has grown in size to over 15,000 acres, and has forced yet another closure of Tamiami Trail from the smoke.

The fire has been burning for several days just north of Tamiami Trail (U.S. 41) near Burns Lake Campground.  Officials say the fire is estimated to be 15,389 acres and is 20% contained at this time.

Wednesday, fire crews successfully secured all of the camps located near Burns Lake Campground. Additional camps will be secured Thursday. Crews are working to establish containment lines along established trails.

Also Thursday, fire crews will be conducting an active fire operation to reduce fuels and contain the fire along U.S. 41 from Skillet Strand Trail to Monument Lake Campground.

Thursday morning, Florida Highway Patrol issued a closure of Tamiami Trail at 10:10 a.m. due to smoke.  The road closure affects a 58-mile stretch between State Road 29 near Everglades City to Krome Avenue near Miami.  It's unknown how long the road will be closed. **UPDATE** Tamiami Trail was reopened at 5:25pm Thursday.

This same stretch of the road was closed down for parts of Monday and Tuesday.

Drivers headed across the Everglades should use I-75/Alligator Alley as an alternate route.

The source and origins of the fire are still under active investigation.

Visitors and communities can help prevent wildfire by fully extinguishing cigarettes, reporting smoke and fire immediately, and fully extinguishing any camp fire or outdoor cooking activities.