Air Force: Training runs sparked Avon Park fire

The possibility of unexploded ordnance is complicating fire efforts.

AVON PARK, Fla.— An 8,000-acre brush fire burning in Avon Park was started by Air Force planes on training runs, according to Air Force Range Director of Operation Charles “Buck” MacLaughlin.

The Florida Forest Service said that it has a half-mile burn buffer around the blaze.

Forestry crews first got word of smoke and flames around 5:30 p.m. Wednesday evening of Arbuckle.

Lake and South East of Lake Wales Ridge State Forest. The wildfire is located on the Highlands/Polk County line .

The site is near the Avon Park Bombing Range.

The blaze quickly grew to 8,000 acres and is zero percent contained as of Wednesday evening.

Forestry crews say they’re having to use back burning techniques instead of bulldozers to fight the fire due to safety concerns over possible unexploded bombs dropped onto the range that could detonate if hit by heavy equipment.

Smoke warnings are posted along U.S. Highway 27 and State Road 64 due to possible reduced visibility.

© 2017 WTSP-TV


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