BUNNELL, Fla. - Gov. Rick Scott, who has declared a state of emergency to help deal with wildfires burning across Florida, toured Flagler County on Tuesday.
Dozens of fires are burning in Flagler, including the 4,306-acre Espanola Fire, which has spread smoke as far north as Jacksonville. The fire was slowly burning toward the west and posed no immediate threat to populated areas. It was 40 percent contained Tuesday afternoon.
The White Eagle Fire in Flagler county has burned 134 acres and was 80 percent contained.
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Monday evening's storms dropped almost no rainfall on Flagler County, but lightning sparked three new fires -- two of which were small and quickly contained.
"We didn't have enough rain here even to put the windshield wipers on, so for us down here, it didn't really do a lot," Palm Coast Fire Chief Mike Beadle said.
Beadle and others battling the fires welcomed the visit by the state's chief executive.
"It's going to bring in, as we call, the big boys: the people that can get in and get those resources to us," Beadle told Channel 4's Kristen Cosby.
The governor's executive order issued late Monday puts the state Division of Emergency Management in charge of the situation. That includes deploying personnel and resources of the Florida National Guard and other state and local government agencies, including Virginia and Kentucky.
Scott said the fires this year are worse than the ones from the 1998 firestorm because the conditions are drier and there are more fires.
"I think people need to be very concerned about this and they need to be very cautious," Scott said. "We're going to make sure we try to do everything we can to stay ahead of it and have the resources. That's why (Monday) I did an executive order that added more resources to this."
He also thanked officials in Kentucky and Virginia for sending help.
More than 300 active wildfires were burning on about 115,583 acres across the state Monday. In the three Department of Forestry districts that cover northeast Florida, there were 118 active fires burning 21,670 acres. The largest fires in the region were the 8,500-acre Impassable Bay Fire, which is inside the Osceola National Forest, the Santa Fe fire in Bradford County, which has burned 5,500 acres, and Flagler's Espanola Fire.
The governor's order notes extreme to exceptional drought conditions are expanding across southeastern and north Florida. They are expected to worsen in the next few weeks.
Flagler County has spent about a half-million dollars in state funds fighting this year's fires.
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