Firefighters battle Martin blazes

By Pat Moore, Palm Beach Post Staff Writer
Thursday, July 17, 2003

HOBE SOUND -- Dozens of firefighters battled blazes Wednesday in southern Martin County, including a burning mulch pile south of Bridge Road that is expected to burn for at least two days.

Workers at the Nu-Way Recycling plant reported the 30-foot-tall mulch pile was started by a lightning strike at about 11:25 a.m., Martin County Fire Prevention Chief Jon Pasqualone said.

Plant workers used heavy equipment to separate the mulch into piles so firefighters could put out the blaze. More firefighters and forestry workers were sent to three brush fires near Pratt-Whitney Road and Bridge Road, Flora Avenue south of Bridge Road and off County Line Road in Jonathan Dickinson State Park.

Martin County sheriff's deputies shut down County Line Road at about 3:30 p.m., while firefighters from Martin and Palm Beach counties tackled a brush fire that began shortly before noon.

That fire grew as firefighters set backfires intended to burn out fuel to end the fire, fire officials said.

Martin County Battalion Chief Brian McGlothin said backfires were set near the Girl Scout Camp in the state park, but structures were not in danger.

Deputies also closed traffic on Flora Avenue, south of the mulch plant fire that began shortly before 1 p.m. and involved an estimated 15 acres.

Another small fire began about about 11:45 a.m. near Pratt Whitney Road and Bridge Road, but it was extinguished within a few hours, fire officials said.

The fires come at a time when Martin County remains fairly wet. The Keetch-Byram Drought Index was 215 on a scale where zero is wettest and 800 is desert-like conditions.

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