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Fire in coastal Florida eaches 13,500 acres, only 10 percent containment

by Kimberly Miller, Palm Beach Post |

A wildfire in southwestern Florida’s Palm Beach County had burned 13,500 acres by Sunday afternoon, with early morning smoke inundating Delray Beach. 

The Florida Forest Service reported Sunday that the Bobcat Fire was located in the Holey Land Wildlife Management Area about 6 miles west of Highway 27. 

The fire was reported at about 2:45 p.m. Saturday, said Scott Peterich, a Florida Forest Service wildfire mitigation specialist in Palm Beach County.

The fire was large enough to be visible on imagery from the GOES-East satellite and Miami weather radar. 

While no official cause was known Sunday, Peterich said there were numerous vehicles in the area that may have accidentally ignited the fire. It was just 10% contained as of Sunday afternoon. 

"It's just so dry it doesn't take much to get it going," he said. "We might get some rainfall but if we don't get that, it will just keep burning." 

No structures were in danger, Peterich said. 

"Right now, it's just meandering everywhere," he said. 

At this time the Forest Service is monitoring and managing the fire, which is typical for large-area sawgrass fires where no structures are threatened, according to Peterich. 

Holey Land is in an area that has received just 6 inches of rain this year, which is a deficit of 6.59 inches, according to the South Florida Water Management District. 

A front that is expected to stall north of Lake Okeechobee triggered a marginal risk for severe weather alert from the Storm Prediction Center. Up to an inch of rain is possible for inland and southern areas of Palm Beach County through Wednesday. 

The fire danger in Palm Beach County is forecast to be moderate Monday, he second-lowest level of concern on a 5-tier scale.