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Flames and smoke were visible from Alligator Alley on Sunday afternoon as the Cowbell fire grew by more than 13 times. (Submitted photo)

Big Cypress Preserve fire grows beyond 10,000 acres

IMMOKALEE, Fla. A brush fire burning in the Big Cypress National Preserve continues to expand.

The blaze, known as the Cowbell Fire, has charred 10,435 acres and is 5 percent contained, the National Park Service said Monday night. That’s an increase in size of roughly 25 percent from late Sunday.

The brush fire is burning about 1 mile north of Alligator Alley, according to the Florida Forest Service. It poses a threat to visibility on the highway between Exits 60 and 85, and particularly between Exits 64 and 75, the park service said.

Another fire within the preserve could affect visibility on U.S. 41 between Turner River Road and the Oasis Visitor Center, according to the park service.

The Cowbell Fire began burning on March 30 but has grown significantly in the past two days.

Crews from nine agencies are working to extinguish the flames, according to fire officials.

The following areas are closed within the Big Cypress National Preserve:

  • Pink Jeep Campground
  • Bear Island Campground
  • Gator Head Campground
  • The road leading into the preserve sanctuary, except to residents
  • All trails between State Road 29 and L-28 Canal including the Florida Trail
  • All public lands west of the L-28 Canal
  • All public lands east of State Road 29
  • All public lands south of the preserve boundary
  • All public lands north of Alligator Alley

The Parliament Fire has closed Monument Lake, Burns Lake Campgrounds and other trails, according to the park service. A temporary flight restriction is in place over the Cowbell Fire.

For more information, call the park service hotline at 305-204-6659.

 

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