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Contact: Linda Friar, 305-242-7714, Media Contact
Contact: General Park Information, 305-242-7700
Miami Update: The Afternoon Fire in Everglades National Park (Park) is now 100% contained. During the course of the five day fire a total of 10,000 acres were burned. This fire burned just south of US 41 in what the National Park Service (NPS) designates as the Wildland Urban Interface (WUI). WUI areas are where natural vegetation or fuel, occurs adjacent to roads, communities, houses, businesses and other developed areas. Fires burning in the WUI may threaten the public and communities as well as Park natural and cultural resources. Firefighters took advantage of favorable weather conditions and managed the Afternoon wildfire to minimize the impacts of the fire and smoke to the public and firefighters. The NPS management of the Afternoon Fire helped the ecosystem and the adjacent communities by “cleaning up” hazardous fuel accumulation (dead plant material) in the area.
Historically fires swept across the River of Grass as it is a natural component of this ecosystem and is actually critical to maintain healthy Everglades sawgrass prairies. This type of grass is extremely flammable and, like much of the everglades ecosystem, is built to burn. After a fire in the everglades plant life regenerates quickly, brilliant shoots of green can be observed just days after a fire has passed. Although the sawgrass prairies are a fire adapted ecosystem, islands and small stands of fire sensitive woody vegetation can be found scattered throughout the prairies. Under summer burning conditions fires will go out as it approaches these damp and less flammable hardwood stands. As the Afternoon Fire burned,Park firefighters saw that the fire burned right up to the willows and went out. These hardwood stands and tree islands are important nesting and roosting sites for wading birds in the everglades and firefighters have reported seeing birds returning to the area to roost in unburned willows. The fire has also created enhanced foraging habitat for species such as the Everglades snail kite and deer.
“You often hear about “getting the water right” when talking about everglades ecosystem restoration, well the management of this wildfire has helped us move closer towards “getting the fire right” for the health and protection of the everglades ecosystem and the public.” said Rick Anderson Everglades National Park Fire Management Officer.