Brush fires shut down SR 46, US 192; homes threatened in Sorrento

By Jeff Allen and Stephanie Bechara, Team Coverage
Last Updated: Tuesday, April 18, 2017, 5:17 PM EDT

A brush fire in Sorrento threatened a dozen homes, torched a greenhouse and shut down State Road 46 for hours Tuesday afternoon.

The brush fire burned about 18 acres near Westward Ho Avenue, with "heavy fire" in a dry lakebed, according to Lake County Fire Rescue.

State Road 46 was closed for several hours because of smoky conditions but has reopened.

The fire burned primarily on property associated with a plant nursery. The fire was so intense, it melted some wrapping around a greenhouse. It also forced the owner of a nearby day care center to tell parents to pick up their children early.

Elsewhere, two homes were damaged and a storage shed burned down in Osceola County as a 4-acre brush fire shut down a portion of busy U.S. 192.

The roadway was closed at the intersection of Magnolia Road and Hibiscus Road in St Cloud.

Osceola County is currently under a burn ban, meaning the use of wood stoves and fireplaces, as well as outdoor burning, is not allowed.

Osceola Fire Chief Daniel McAvoy advises residents to call in any fires right away.

"We don't want people to lose their homes. That's our main concern, and of course we don't want people injured," he said. "So we are prepared as well as we possibly can to do the best we possibly can for the community."

The fire was 100 percent contained as of Tuesday afternoon. Officials were asking drivers to avoid the area and seek alternate roads.

Earlier Tuesday, State Road 44 several miles northeast of Eustis and the Beachline Expressway were closed because of brush fires but reopened by late morning.

The Lake County School District closed several schools, because buses could not drive on the roadways due to smoke. Attendance was down at several Lake schools Monday as well.

Any students who missed school because of State Road 44 closing will be marked as excused because of the fire. Any tests missed will also be rescheduled.

Lake County issued a burn ban Monday because of the dry weather conditions. The ban forbids outdoor burning, including yard waste and campfires or bon fires. 

Violating the burn ban carries a minimum fine of $150.