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Wildfire closes section of I-75 in Bonita Springs

Smoke in the background as a wildfire closed I-75  in Bonita Springs.
Florida Department of Transportation
A wildfire closed Interstate 75 at Bonita Beach Road in Bonita Springs

Fire crews were called to a section on the interstate when a wildfire produced flames and smoke near the Bonita Beach Road exit.

A wildfire along Interstate 75 in Bonita Springs closed a section of the freeway Saturday afternoon and prompted residential evacuations.

Smoke and flames were seen in an area from mile markers 116 to 119 and in the vicinity of the Bonita Beach Road exit along I-75 around 3:30 p.m.

A helicopter from South Florida Fire and Aviation was being used to drop buckets of water on the flames and a Lee County Sheriff's Office chopper was being used as an aerial fire command and control platform.

 The Florida Highway Patrol closed northbound Interstate 75 from mile marker 116 (Bonita Beach Road Exit) to mile marker 123 (Corkscrew Road), due to the proximity of the wildfire  and smoke.
Special to WGCU
The Florida Highway Patrol closed northbound Interstate 75 from mile marker 116 (Bonita Beach Road Exit) to mile marker 123 (Corkscrew Road), due to the proximity of the wildfire and smoke.

Southbound Interstate 75 remained open with northbound traffic diverted to U.S. 41 or the Imperial Parkway/Three Oaks Parkway corridor. The left and center northbound lanes reopened at 5:46 p.m. with the outside right lane closed from mile marker 116 to mile marker 118, for onsite fire/emergency crews.

All I-75 on-ramps from Corkscrew Road to Bonita Beach Road were also closed for a time because of the fire, the Lee County Sheriff's Office reported.

Fire crews from multiple departments responded to the fire. The flames were threatening a section of homes east of the freeway and evacuations were reported. Bonita Springs Firefighters and other local fire agencies working the fires asked people to avoid traveling in the area.

The FHP also said winds are currently blowing smoke to the east, away from 75 and that troopers would continue to closely monitor and provide additional updates as needed.

I-75 incident cameras showed blackened areas along the interstate as well as flames on the east side of the highway.

The Florida Forest Service said the fire encompassed about 20 acres and was about 5 percent contained.

The FHP said the wildfires, smoke, fog and heavy rain can all lower visibility on the roads. It is important for motorist to drive as safely as possible in these conditions.

  • DRIVE WITH LIGHTS on low beam. High beams will only be reflected off the fog and impair visibility even more. Your lights help other drivers see your vehicle, so be sure they all work. Keep your windshield and headlights clean, to reduce the glare and increase visibility.
  • SLOW DOWN – and watch your speedometer before you enter a patch of fog.
  • WATCH OUT for slow-moving and parked vehicles. Open you window a little and listen for traffic you cannot see.
  • REDUCE THE DISTRACTIONS in your vehicle. Turn off the radio and cell phone. Your full attention is required.
  • USE WIPERS AND DEFROSTERS liberally for maximum visibility. Sometimes it is difficult to determine if poor visibility is due to fog or moisture on the windshield.
  • USE THE RIGHT EDGE of the road or painted road markings as a guide.
  • BE PATIENT avoid passing and/or changing lanes.
  • SIGNAL TURNS well in advance and brake early as you approach a stop.
  • DO NOT STOP on a freeway or heavily traveled road. You could become the first link in a chain-reaction collision. If you must pull off the road, signal, then carefully pull off as far as possible and turn your hazard lights on.

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Bueno, Greg /
Bueno, Greg /

WGCU Staff