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Hernando wildfire contained; State Road 50 reopens

A pickup drives by a still-burning section along State Road 50 east of Ridge Manor Monday morning.

RON THOMPSON | Times

A pickup drives by a still-burning section along State Road 50 east of Ridge Manor Monday morning.

RIDGE MANOR — A 640-acre wildfire continued to burn Monday in parts of eastern Hernando County and the Withlacoochee State Forest. Officials expect the blaze will continue to smolder for at least another two weeks.

"Fortunately, it's quieted down a lot," said Don Ruths, a wildfire prevention specialist with the Florida Division of Forestry. "It's not much of a fire right now."

Early Monday, authorities reopened a section of State Road 50 that had been shut down Sunday because of smoke from the nearby brush fire. The blaze was first reported Sunday morning in the area of Richloam Clay Sink Road, just off SR 50 in Hernando.

Ruths said firefighters with the state Division of Forestry had contained nearly 40 percent of the fire by Monday afternoon. Much of the blaze had been limited to the Richloam Wildlife Management Area, Ruths said.

Firefighters spent much of the day successfully picking off embers that were coming out of the fire and knocking down trees that could reignite the blaze.

"We're cleaning it up and mopping it up," Ruths said. "We're putting out the hot spots and taking out trees that are blocking the road."

Firefighters were set to shut down operations about 1 a.m. and resume their efforts Tuesday morning. Ruths said no residents or buildings were in any danger; Hernando County Fire and Rescue will remain on call if that changes.

The fire was one of seven "significant" wildfires burning Monday, said Gerry LaCavera of the state's Division of Forestry. Of those, the largest was in Franklin County. There are also large fires burning in Sarasota, Volusia, St. Johns and Charlotte counties.

Joel Anderson can be reached at joelanderson@sptimes.com or (352) 754-6120.

Hernando wildfire contained; State Road 50 reopens 03/23/09 [Last modified: Monday, March 23, 2009 6:52pm]
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