West Broward brush fire threatens to jump Krome Avenue

Everglades Holiday Park evacuated Thursday morning


BROWARD COUNTY, Fla. – A brush fire burning in west Broward that has burned 1,000 acres is now threatening to jump Krome Avenue to the east, forestry officials said.

Authorities have ordered the evacuation of Mack's Fish Camp nearby.

The fire, which started Wednesday, is only 20 percent contained as it descends on Everglades Holiday Park.

Authorities ordered that the park be evacuated just before 11 a.m. Thursday and all airboats returned.

Stunned tourists received refunds and were asked to leave the park immediately.

"I believe it is the right thing to do," Kristin Ritchie, whose airboat ride was canceled, said. "Just because if we are out in the boat and the fire comes, then we would be trapped."

Others arriving for a day on the River of Grass were told to go home.

A few die-hard fishermen wore breathing masks and fire suppression equipment was brought in to protect structures as thick smoke and ash filled the sky.

This is the first time in decades that the park has been ordered shut because of a fire threat. Fire officials said strong wind and an approaching cold front bring a concern that the fire could jump.

"This weather is so erratic right now," Scott Peterich, of the Florida Forest Service, said. "We're having spotting, where the embers will float around, and it is so dry. Especially with this front coming in, the relative humidity is going to drop, which is going to make for even higher incidences of fire."

Barrington Allen, who lives in the area, told Local 10 News reporter Todd Tongen that the ashes look like a snowstorm.

"It's like it is snowing in Florida. Ashes are falling from the sky," he said.

"I was very anxious. There is ash everywhere," another resident who was forced to evacuate, Marina Smith, said. "We were worried about coming back to no van."

No injuries have been reported because of the fire.