Wildfires in Southwest Florida have shut down Interstate 75 and forced evacuations.
A 20-mile stretch of the interstate, also known as Alligator Alley, remain closed Thursday morning from just west of Collier Boulevard to State Road 29.
Two large wildfires were burning Thursday morning on either side of the interstate about 14 miles east of Naples in Collier County.
Residents of about 30 homes in the Golden Gates Estates subdivision were ordered to leave because of the fires, according to the Collier County Sheriff’s Office. Two other areas were under voluntary evacuation orders.
The first report of a fire was made shortly before 2 p.m. Wednesday. By early Thursday, the two Alligator Alley fires had consumed 6.25 square miles. Both were still 0% contained, according to the Florida Forest Service.
The current wildfires are fast moving, fueled by low humidity and unfavorable wind conditions.
“We are noticing extreme fire behavior and and an excessively high flame height,” Melinda Avni, a mitigation specialist for the Florida Forestry Service, told the Naples Daily News. “We are encouraging extreme caution and for folks to stay away from the area, if at all possible.”
Gusty winds will continue into Friday, with gusts over 30 mph possible at times, according to weather.com meteorologist Linda Lam. Moisture will gradually increase across the area Thursday into Friday, which will increase relative humidity levels and showers are possible later today.