Heavy smoke this morning throughout North Central Florida has reduced visibility on roadways and made for hazardous driving conditions. While the fire in Levy Prairie just over the Alachua-Putnam county line may bring in some smoke, Wildfire Mitigation Specialist Ludie Bond says the main source of the smoke is from the County Line Fire in the Northern part of Columbia County.[audio:http://www.wuft.org/news/files/2012/04/Bond2.mp3]
Over the next 24 hours, winds will begin to shift to the southwest, causing areas east and northeast of the fire to experience more smoke. Bond says there are at least 11 fires currently burning in Alachua, Marion, Levy and adjacent counties.\
Bond says the smoke will remain closer to the ground, but urges drivers to still exercise caution during the hours of 3 a.m. and 10 a.m. in the morning.
In light of the January 28th pileup on I-75 – which resulted in 10 deaths and multiple severe injuries, drivers are being urged to use caution when conditions on the road seem less than ideal. Back in February, Republican State Representative Keith Perry began pushing for electronic signs to be put up along I-75 that could help warn motorists about foggy and smoky conditions in the future. Florida’s 89.1, WUFT-FM’s Sanika Dange talked with Perry about what progress has been made.[audio:http://www.wuft.org/media/audio/perryqnaSanikaDange.mp3]
Highway signs forewarn motorists crossing Payne’s Prairie to use caution.
Smoke from recent wildfires is evident on U.S. Highway 441 across Payne’s Prairie.