HIGHLANDS COUNTY, Fla. -- A raging brush fire started by Air Force training is burning 6,000 acres on Thursday afternoon at the Avon Park Bombing Range.

The fire started Wednesday when the Air Force pilots were performing close air support coordination between ground personnel and joint terminal attack controllers during a large training exercise, according to the Air Force.

The cause of the fire, on the Polk/Highlands county line, is unknown. A piece of metal from an aircraft could have caused a spark that started the fire.

Smoke will be an issue for drivers and residents in the area, especially along U.S. Highway 27 and State Road 64.

The Avon Park Bombing range covers 106,000 acres.

The Air Force did halt use of some explosives a month ago due to the dry conditions.

Officials at the bombing range say it is not uncommon to have fires there and the service has its own wildland fire crew. They do prescribed burns and monitor the weather.
They have not used any highly explosive material, machine gun tracer rounds, or incendiary devices.