Pat Deren, with the Florida Forest Service surveys the Baldwin Bay Wildfire
BALDWIN, Fla. -- It's no secret we desperately need soaking rain here on the First Coast. And as the dry conditions persist, wildfires are finding all sorts of ways to spread.
"They can burn several feet underground," said Florida Forest Service supervisor Pat Deren.
"As long as the organic material is really dry, they can keep burning deep down."
Deren has been watching the Baldwin Bay fire in western Duval County. It started with a lightning strike about a month ago, which was under control after rain a couple weeks ago, but it wasn't enough.
"It spread now to 99 acres," he said. "We've cut lines around it, but it's so dry lately that the heat can actually pass under the lines."
That's right, he said "under" the lines.
Forget the towering, glowing flames moving through windswept conditions. The fight gets interesting when fire is moving under his feet.
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"And it's really dangerous because fires will actually burn underground root structures," he said.
Trees that may appear perfectly healthy above ground can come crashing down at any minute.
"Trees falling is the biggest danger. We hear that loud pop and it's a bit taxing."
He says the solution is out of his, or anyone's hands. The one and only thing that can stop the groundfire is a soaking rain.
"Two inches in a weekend would certainly help control it," he said. "But 5 or 6 inches, maybe, in a two week period, then we could probably call this fire out."
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