Hernando firefighters battle 1100-acre Watertower brush fire, 75% contained

The fire is now 75% contained

HERNANDO BEACH, Fla. - UPDATE | 4/10

As of Monday morning, Hernando County officials report the fire has burned 1,100 acres and is now 75% contained. The fire is what they call a donut hole.

51 special needs residents have been identified, and teams have been keeping in touch with them, just in case they should need anything.

RELATED: Church pastor relieved building saved from wildfire

They continue to monitor the situation.

Investigators believe the fire was caused by a lightning strike in the Weekiwachee Preserve.

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Hernando County reported Sunday night the Watertower fire is burning 650 acres and 50 percent contained. Fire crews are using several methods to continue to limit the spread.

The biggest advantage crews have heading into Monday is that the winds died down considerably.

From small pockets of fire, to big bursts of flames, the wildfire continues to burn. It is being fueled by extreme conditions.

"We are drier than we have been in years," said Judy Tear with the Florida Forest Service.

Both on the ground, and in the air, the Florida Forest Service and local fire departments are working together, determined to get the upper hand on this massive wildfire.

"We will call on whatever resources we need to put this fire out," Tear said.

The fire first erupted from lightning during Thursday's storms. Visitors to the popular wildlife preserve near Hernando Beach were stunned to see thick smoke consuming the sky Sunday.

"It literally blinded the road and you couldn't even see in front of you," said Michael Schulwitz.

Nearby home and business owners worried as they watched.

"A lot of ash and embers coming down," said Bill Jay, Hernando Beach Marina general manager.

Thankfully, no structures are being threatened by the fire, and only a small handful of people have evacuated on their own as a precaution. No mandatory evacuation orders are in place.

"Nothing's burned down here in terms of everything here off Shoal Line Blvd. We're up. We're running.  Nobody got burned out," said Jay.

And those in the area, are praying it stays that way.

"I hope it doesn't hurt anyone or anything and hope it clears up real soon," said tourist Dizz Oliver.

Crews plan to continue to use every tool in their arsenal to combat the fire.

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