Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Fire Closes I-95 and U.S. 17; Traffic Snarls in Callahan, Yulee

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Fire Closes I-95 and U.S. 17; Traffic Snarls in Callahan, Yulee

Article excerpt


YULEE - A fire that broke out in Duval County near the Nassau County line stunned area emergency officials with its voracious appetite and rapid speed Sunday afternoon.

Nassau County Fire Rescue Chief Chuck Cooper said Jacksonville officials reported the fire, which started in a marsh south of the Nassau River, moved with alarming speed.

"They said it danced across the marsh faster than anything they've ever seen before," Cooper said Monday. "The fire behavior in the last three weeks is like nothing we've seen before. The vegetation is very dry. It went across that marsh like it was nobody's business. We're helping Jacksonville fire and Florida Forestry. Nassauville has two brush trucks out there right now."

Thick smoke from the fire Sunday closed Interstate 95 north of Interstate 295 and south of Florida A1A, Florida Highway Patrol Spokesman Bill Leeper said Monday.

The result was a traffic jam in central Yulee that lasted for hours Sunday night.

Southbound traffic exited on Florida A1A and traveled to U.S. 17, south to Interstate 295 in Jacksonville and then back to Interstate 95. Northbound traffic was forced to exit at 295, took U.S. 17 to Florida A1A and then back to Interstate 95 at Florida A1A.

Southbound 95 was closed for an hour but northbound was closed for three hours.

"It got backed up and then we started sending traffic to U.S. 1," Leeper said.

The Nassau County Sheriff's Office helped Florida Highway Patrol troopers wrangle the sudden flood of traffic on Nassau County roads, Leeper said.

Police directed north-south I-95 traffic through Callahan to U.S. 301. Traffic was snarled well into the night after the interstate reopened, officials reported.

Fire crews got the upper hand on the fire Sunday night.

"The aggressive response by Jacksonville Fire Rescue and Forestry and the request that we take our side of the fire is a tribute to all the agencies. …

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