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Florida's Fire

ROARING FLAMES The Sawgrass Fire has blazed through the Florida Everglades. CARLINE JEAN—SOUTH FLORIDA SUN SENTINEL/TNS/GETTY IMAGES

A wildfire broke out in the Florida Everglades on Sunday night. By Monday it had doubled in size. Soon it had consumed some 42,000 acres. As of Wednesday evening, the so-called Sawgrass Fire was 75% contained.

The Florida Everglades is a natural region of tropical wetlands. It covers more than 4,000 square miles in the south of Florida.

The Sawgrass Fire was sparked by lightning, according to the Florida Forest Service. Lightning strikes “can be five times hotter than the sun,” says Paul Walker. He’s a senior meteorologist at AccuWeather. Lightning’s energy evaporates moisture, Walker says. This causes anything lightning strikes to combust. And South Florida has experienced unusually hot and dry weather this week. That lack of rain helped the fire spread rapidly.

No buildings have been damaged by the fire. The smoke caused hazy conditions along a busy stretch of Interstate 75 known as Alligator Alley. Winds also pushed smoke toward Broward County, leading to poor air quality in the area. Fire officials sent out a Twitter message on Monday: “Residents with breathing complications should take appropriate measures.” Keeping doors and windows closed can also keep smoke at bay.