Brush fire forces St. Johns Bluff Road closure

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - Smoke from a brush fire on the Southside forced Jacksonville police to shut down part of St. Johns Bluff Road on Tuesday, with one lane still closed Wednesday morning.

The road from Alden to Beach was closed about 11:15 a.m. Tuesday because the fire was burning near the road and limited visibility was limited by smoke. One northbound lane was reopened about 90 minutes later, but southbound traffic remained diverted.

As of midday Wednesday, one southbound lane of St. Johns Bluff was still closed between Alden and Beach.

Jacksonville Fire-Rescue said the fire was burning on about five acres between  St. Johns Bluff and Cortez Road. By late afternoon it was 90 percent contained, but close enough to homes to concern residents.

"I came home from work because my buddy called saying, 'The cops said you have to get out,'" Damian Nunes said.

Firefighters said while the fire did approach some homes, fire units were positioned in the neighborhood to make sure the flames didn't get cause any structural damage.

The cause of the fire was not immediately known, but believed to be accidental.

Annaleasa Winter, of the Florida Forest Service, says there are concerns about other, similar fires over the next days and weeks because recent freezes have left lots of dead vegetation that can fuel wildfires.

"If you wind is blowing and your air is dry, fire risk is extremely high," Winter said. "A cigarette butt or anything that you might throw out of your vehicle or drop accidentally could very easily start a wildfire given these type of conditions."

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