NEW SMYRNA BEACH, Fla. – Smoldering brush fires kept about 1,000 people from their homes early Monday, and the heavy smoke shut down parts of Interstate 95 between Daytona Beach and the Cape Canaveral area.
At least one home was destroyed and about 8,000 acres scorched by the fires that began Friday and flared up through the weekend, officials said.
"The state as a whole is just extremely dry right now," said Jim Brenner, fire management administrator for the state Division of Forestry. "These fires are consuming everything. And it's not over by any stretch of the imagination."
Smoke from the fires blended with fog early Monday and blanketed I-95 in Brevard County, forcing the closure for several hours of a 20-mile stretch of highway. Another 12 miles remained shut down late Monday morning because of the smoke. Authorities blamed the low visibility for a five-vehicle crash that killed two people Sunday.
"The hint to motorists is don't use I-95 in the next couple of days if you don't have to. We want motorists to avoid 95 from Indian River County up to Jacksonville," said Florida Highway Patrol spokeswoman Kim Miller.
The flames were right behind Rita McSweeney's home when she fled her golf course community.
"I could see it through the woods," McSweeney told The Daytona Beach News-Journal. "The sky was black, black, black, black, and then it would turn fire engine red. It felt like I could reach out and touch the fire."