Published January 14, 2015
A fast-growing wildfire (search) forced the brief evacuation of hundreds of northern Florida families Wednesday, and a burgeoning blaze in a New Mexico forest jumped containment lines.
The Florida fire grew from about 3,000 acres to about 5,000 acres as it burned near Hampton, about 50 miles southwest of Jacksonville (search), said Annaleasa Winter, a spokeswoman for the state Division of Forestry.
About 500 people who had been evacuated from areas near the blaze were allowed to return Wednesday night; nearly a half-inch of rain doused the blaze, much of which was burning in inaccessible swamp areas.
The fire was not contained, however, and parts remained as close as a half-mile to some homes, authorities said.
"The rain has helped, (but) it didn't take care of the fire," said Nelson Green, director of the Bradford County Department of Emergency Services. "It's going to be smoky here for days."
No injuries have been reported, and no homes or structures have been damaged by the flames.
Hampton is about 50 miles southwest of Jacksonville and about five miles south of Starke, an area where the Florida State Prison and other lockups are located. A prisons spokesman said the fires were not affecting them.
Marvina Steadman said the fire was a couple of miles away from her home Wednesday morning when she left to run errands. When she tried to return, the road was blocked and troopers turned her away. "It wouldn't be fun to replace everything," she said.
In southern Florida, the Alligator Alley portion of Interstate 75 was reopened during the night about three hours after smoke from a 3,000-acre Everglades brush fire reduced visibility to zero.
The fire in New Mexico's Capitan Mountains (search) had grown to 37,000 acres Wednesday after jumping containment lines, fire information officer Joe Luttman said. The flames were 45 percent contained.
Fire officials sent crews to protect some private property in the area, but no evacuations were ordered, and no structures were in immediate danger.
The blaze, started by lightning, has destroyed 12 cabins and several outbuildings. It was reported May 15 in rugged terrain in the Lincoln National Forest in south-central New Mexico.
Another wildfire near the Arizona-Mexico border burned 250 acres by midday Wednesday. Campgrounds, a visitor's center, maintenance buildings and archaeological sites in the Coronado National Monument were within miles of the blaze, but not immediately threatened.
Spokeswoman Marylee Peterson said the blaze was likely caused by humans; the area is a popular crossing spot for illegal immigrants.