WEEKI WACHEE — About 15 homes were voluntarily evacuated Friday afternoon while a brush fire scorched dry forest north of Weeki Wachee.
Hernando County Fire Rescue and the state Department of Forestry worked to extinguish the fire, which authorities said was contained by about 2:30 p.m., a couple of hours after it started.
The fire, north of County Road 550 and west of U.S. 19, covered between 6 and 7 acres and immediately threatened four homes. One home, built a little more than one year ago, received minor smoke damage. A small shed caught on fire but did not collapse.
As winds shifted during the afternoon, authorities were concerned that ashes could spread to other areas and ignite other fires. Since winds primarily blew from east to west, most ashes were carried over the Gulf of Mexico.
Hernando County Fire Rescue District Chief Robert Miller said authorities were investigating the cause of the fire, though he said it was suspicious.
Miller said Hernando Fire Rescue was called to a smaller fire in the same area earlier in the week about the same time of day, which corresponded with the release of school.
Michael Sanserino can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (352) 848-1430.