BREVARD COUNTY, Fla. – Parts of Interstate 95 reopened Friday evening in Brevard County after being closed for most of the day due to smoke from a 1,600-acre brush fire in neighboring Indian River County, according to authorities.
The fire broke out around 8 a.m. at the St. Sebastian Buffer Preserve in Indian River and was completely uncontained as of 2:30 p.m. By 5 p.m. the fire was 10% contained, according to officials.
The cause of the blaze is not known.
Brevard County officials said I-95 closed in both directions Friday morning due to the fire. As of 5:45 p.m. the southbound lanes near the Palm Bay Road exit had reopened, according to the Florida Highway Patrol. The northbound lanes remain closed.
Officials said the fire has also prompted I-95 closures in Indian River County. Northbound traffic is being diverted off the 156 Mile Post exit at CR-512 and southbound traffic is being diverted off the 166 Mile Post exit at St. John’s Heritage Parkway.
“This is the biggest fire we’ve seen this year in (Indian River County) and we’ll be working well into the night to contain it,” said a Florida Forest Service representative, who added that high winds are a concern because embers could spread and spark another fire.
The Florida Division of Emergency Management is closely monitoring the wildfire in St. Sebastian River State Park.
The Fellsmere Police Department said no homes or structures are believed to be threatened but residents should continue to monitor the situation.
A voluntary evacuation notice was issued Friday evening for the following areas in Indian River County: East of Willow (130th Avenue) between 97th street and 109th Street. At this time, there are no mandatory evacuation orders in place.
The wind is pushing the fire in a south by southwest direction. The portion of the fire west of the interstate is estimated to be situated between 101st and 105th Streets, but east of the power lines that parallel the interstate, according to Fellsmere police.
Several agencies are battling the fire, including nine Florida Forest Service bulldozers and a helicopter.
5/21/21, 11:37AM | #TrafficAlert: Reminder, I-95 is shut down in both directions at the southern County boarder (Palm Bay Rd. exit SB, & Fellsmere exit NB) due to a wildfire in Indian River County. Please take an alternate route. pic.twitter.com/d0VLwEExdn
— Brevard EOC (@BrevardEOC) May 21, 2021
FHP has closed northbound I-95 at the MM156 due to smoke blowing across I-95.
— IRCSheriff (@IRCSheriff) May 21, 2021
Traffic Alert Brevard County: I-95 Southbound is shut down at Malabar Rd. (MM 173) for an active fire, in Indian River County. Use alternate route.
— FHP Orlando (@FHPOrlando) May 21, 2021
This is a developing story and will be updated as more information becomes available.
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