BONITA SPRINGS, Fla. (WFLA) — A brush fire forced the closure of I-75 northbound in Lee County on Saturday.
The Florida Highway Patrol said troopers were beginning to shut down the road at around 4 p.m. due to smoke. Two northbound lanes reopened just before 6 p.m., but shifting winds could force the road to close again.
The right lane of I-75 northbound is still blocked from the Bonita Beach road exit (mile marker 116) to the Corkscrew Road exit (mile marker 123). The southbound lanes remain open.
Although the road is open, smoke from the fire is slowing down traffic on both sides of the interstate. Drivers can use US-41 or Imperial Parkway (Three Oaks Parkway) to navigate around the area of closure.
The fire began as several smaller fires and has spread to 25 acres, according to a report from NBC affiliate WBBH. FDOT traffic camera footage showed helicopters dumping water over the fire, which the Florida Forest Service said is only 70% contained as of Saturday evening.
There is no word yet on what started the blaze, but drought conditions have led to high fire danger across Florida in recent weeks. Officials warned residents to be vigilant and to listen to local authorities when they issue burn bans.
“We have very dry conditions all over the state, near drought conditions, are extremely dry,” said Florida Agriculture Commissioner Wilton Simpson at a news conference in Hillsborough County Thursday. “We’re just asking everyone to be very vigilant. We realize this has already been a very busy season and obviously we hope to mitigate that through a lot of safety measures.”
This is a developing story. Stay up to date on the latest from News Channel 8 on-air and on the go with the free WFLA News Channel 8 mobile app.