Wildfires force evacuations in central Florida

May 12, 2008 12:12:33 PM PDT
Hundreds of residents along Florida's Atlantic Coast were ordered to evacuate Monday as firefighters struggled to contain wildfires burning in dry, windy weather. Helicopters dropped water on parts of a fire that had burned between 500 and 600 acres in Daytona Beach, said Division of Forestry spokesman Timber Weller.

Authorities ordered about 500 homes in the northwest part of the city to be evacuated. No homes were reported damaged, though officials warned that embers could fly more than a mile from the blaze. The fire was about 20 percent contained, Weller said.

"The weather conditions are ripe for extreme fire behavior," Weller said. "What we're looking at is fairly typical for this time of year in Florida, coming into the end of the dry season."

In neighboring Brevard County, a 2,000-acre fire destroyed two homes in Malabar, firefighters said. No injuries were reported. One person may be responsible for the blaze, said Ernie Dieble, a Palm Bay arson investigator.

Also in Brevard County, a 250 acre fire was burning near Cocoa. Dozens of people were evacuated.

"We've been spraying the roofs," homeowner Joey Byer told WKMG-TV in Orlando. "We've got every hose we own out here trying to spray it and helping the firefighters out."


Associated Press Writer Jennifer Kay in Miami contributed to this report.