During the afternoon hours on Monday, a brushfire flared up in extreme western St. Lucie County, FL sending thick black smoke into the air. You couldn't miss this massive plume of smoke if you were within 15-20miles of the fire.
Controlled Burn or Full-on Brushfire?
I first noticed the large impressive plume of smoke on SR 710 in Martin County, and decided to check out the source since I already had my camera gear with me. I turned onto 714 in western Martin County and drove a few miles east, and this is where I encountered several fire rescue trucks staging along the side of the road.
They were at the entrance to a large ranch called "Martin County Ranches" and seemed to be evaluating the fire and road options to gain access to it. About 15 minutes later I noticed they packed up and headed out. A very nice Martin County Sheriff Officer drove up to me and said they were told it was a controlled burn across the county line.
Let's Go For A Buggy Ride
The fire looked a little large to me to be a controlled fire, but maybe the gusty winds flared it up more than what they had planned. Shortly after a very nice couple (David and Linda) came up to me as well in their off-road buggy. They lived on the ranch and invited me to take a ride with them way back towards the fire along the property line. So, I jumped on the buggy with my tripod and HDSLR camera and off we went.
At this point the fire looked to be settling down some with more white smoke over a smaller area. David and Linda took me back into some brush driving on some bumpy trails passing small wetlands and trees. Actually, it was like a little afternoon adventure in chase for a view of the fire. We reached the property line, and all that remained was smoldering smoke beyond the railroad tracks and it looked like the firefighters had things under control thankfully. Good thing too because the winds were gusty and I would of hated to see the fire reach the ranch.
A Thank You
A big thank you to David and Linda for their kind hospitality and invitation to take me back on their ranch to get a little closer to the fire. David told me he's a "storm buff" and I'll have to take him out on a lightning chase sometime.
I ended the afternoon driving over to the northeastern rim of Lake okeechobee. The area was down wind of the fire and the large smoke plume was making for a very interesting skyscape. The late day sun was beaming through the dark smoke clouds making an ominous sky that was also turning the lake waters bright orangey-red. Not something you see every day. I will check on the fire again tomorrow to make sure it hasn't flared back up.