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News Story
Updated: 05/22/2017 10:22:30AM

Bombing Range fire: Being contained

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PHIL ATTINGER/STAFF

Flames lick up eight feet Thursday afternoon at a fire line inside an 8,000-acre block of the Avon Park Air Force Range. Flames here are moving toward the camera, driven by shifting winds. Crews with the Range's Environmental Flight hope to let the fire, already 3,000-4,000 acres, to burn out over the weekend with a series of calculated backburns.

PHIL ATTINGER/STAFF

Environmental Flight Chief Brent Bonner, on left, shows Avon Park Air Force Range Operations Officer Charles 'Buck' MacLaughlin the boundaries of an 8,000-acre area of containment for a 3,000-4,000 acre wildfire. MacLaughlin said military exercises started the blaze. Bonner plans to do a slow burnout to limit smoke impact to local roads and residents.

PHIL ATTINGER/STAFF

A smoky haze hangs over downtown Avon Park during Thursday afternoon's school let-out time. Officials at the Avon Park Air Force Range are doing a slow burnout of a wildfire on the installation in hopes this will lessen the impact of the 3,000-4,000 acre blaze. Residents and motorists are warned to expect the haze in the area through the weekend.

PHIL ATTINGER/STAFF

Smoke drifts on Thursday through pine woods of an 8,000-acre tract of the Avon Park Air Force Range. Officials on the Range have backburned to the 3,000-4,000 acre wildfire in hopes of cutting its fuel and having it burn out over the weekend.

PHIL ATTINGER/STAFF

On left, Brian Pippin, assistant fire module leader and incident commander for the Avon Park Air Force Range's Echo Springs fire, talks Thursday afternoon with Environmental Flight Chief Brent Bonner about plans to contain the wildfire, well into the woods behind them.

PHIL ATTINGER/STAFF

A 'duece and a half' 2.5-ton truck patrols Van Eeghen Road on the Avon Park Air Force Range on Thursday to check for hot spots or signs of a wildfire trying to move west out of a containment zone. Wildland firefighters on the Range plan to use a series of slow backburns to contain the 3,000-4,000 acre blaze to minimize smoke impact to the surrounding area.

COURTESY PHOTO/FLORIDA FOREST SERVICE

A map of part of the Avon Park Air Force Range shows the area of the Echo Springs wildfire which started Wednesday night from a military exercise. Fire officials on the Range hope to have the fire 100 percent contained by Sunday, and hope smoke over local roads and homes will start abating by then.

By PHIL ATTINGER

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AVON PARK — A military training exercise may have sparked Wednesday night’s wildfire on the Avon Park Air Force Range, but putting it out is an exercise in patience on and off the range.

“We hope to have less impact with a slow burnout,” said Brent Bonner, APAFR environmental chief. “By Sunday, we should be 100 percent contained.”

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