Florida

Alligator Alley Reopens as Crews Fight Massive Collier County Brush Fire

A 25-mile stretch of Alligator Alley in Collier County has reopened as firefighters battle what is being described as a "massive" brush fire. The lanes were shut down Tuesday as visibility reduced due to the thick smoke.

About 7,500 acres have burned at the Picayune Stand State Forest. As of Wednesday, only 40 percent of the blaze was contained, according to the Caloosahatchee Forestry Center and NBC station WBBH-TV.

Interstate 75 between SR-29 at exit 80 and Golden Gate Parkway at exit 105 is closed, according to the Florida Highway Patrol.

Mandatory evacuations were in effect for neighborhoods nearby the wildfire. The order was lifted Wednesday evening. Two homes were lost in the fire, according to Collier County officials.

Collier County Sheriff's Office

Schools in Collier County are expected to remain open on Wednesday, while officials say that windy and dry conditions have made fighting the fire difficult.

Florida Forest Service officials say the fire was started by a person, but the investigation continues into how exactly that took place.

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