LAKE PLACID — Burning yard trash was the cause of a five-acre wildfire that threatened nine homes in Highway Park on Wednesday.
Firefighters contained the wildfire, which started at 12:28 p.m. in an abandoned grove off E.A. Smith Avenue in the Highway Park subdivision, south of Lake Placid. Firefighters had the blaze out at approximately 4 p.m., after also protecting nearby homes from stray sparks.
The Florida Forest Service has cited the person who burned the garbage with a violation. Currently, Highlands County has a burn ban in effect due to extreme drought and conditions favorable for wildfires.
When first detected, the fire had spread one-quarter of an acre past the original pile. Lake Placid Volunteer Fire Department used more than 900 gallons of water to suppress the wildfire, but an undetected smoldering log inside the pile reignited.
East winds spread the wildfire west into an old abandoned grove. Then erratic wind shifts spread the wildfire behind nine residences. Volunteer firefighters from Lake Placid, Placid Lakes and Highlands Park, along with Highlands County Fire Services, quickly set up structure protection while state wildland firefighters suppressed the wildfire with bulldozers.
The quick response saved nine homes, fire officials said.
An evacuation notice was given, but evacuations were voluntary, according to an alert from the Forest Service.