Wildfire Shuts Down a Part of I-95 in Florida, Snarling Traffic

By Wire Service

A wildfire has shut down a portion of Interstate 95 in northern Florida, snarling traffic on a major U.S. highway as the busy Memorial Day weekend begins.

The fire started less than a mile from the highway on Wednesday and spread, the Florida Forest Service says.

The Yellow Bluff Fire has scorched 450 acres and was 30 percent contained, the Florida Forest Service’s Jacksonville office said. Detours are in place as it burns adjacent to I-95.

The Florida Highway Patrol is diverting traffic off I-95, and both northbound and southbound directions are closed in Duval County, said Officer Christian Hancock of the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office.

I-95 is a major thoroughfare along the East Coast from Miami to the U.S./Canada border in Maine, and is also key to accessing major beaches in Florida.

“These wildfires can build quickly and can be extremely dangerous, so residents in affected areas should continue to follow directions from state and local officials,” Florida Agriculture Commissioner Nicole “Nikki” Fried said in a statement.

“With the Memorial Day travel weekend approaching, all travelers should closely monitor the media for updates on safety and I-95’s reopening,” Fried added.

The National Weather Service in Jacksonville has issued a dense smoke advisory in the area. Visibility will be reduced to a quarter mile or less, it said.

“The cause of the fire is still being investigated,” The Weather Channel reported.

The Florida Highway Patrol has detours in place. Northbound traffic can go east on Pecan Park Road and then north on U.S. 17. Southbound traffic can go east on State Road 200 and then south on U.S. 17.

‘Wildfire Severely Damages’

The wildfire that ignited in Mexico jumped the Rio Grande into Big Bend National Park and severely damaged a historic border ghost town and former Army border post.

Posts on the park’s Facebook page say shifting wind gusts Wednesday night blew embers onto the barracks, officers’ quarters, visitors’ center and restrooms at the Castolon Historic District.

Firefighting crews from the park, Texas A&M Forest Service and nearby Terlingua Fire and EMS were able to save the officers’ quarters with minimal scorching, but the La Harmonia frontier trading post and Castolon Visitor Center were damaged severely.

The park officials’ statements said shade temperatures were near 109 degrees with single-digit relative humidity when the fire entered the park about 6 p.m. Wednesday.

The Associated Press contributed to this article.

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