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ARRL General Bulletin ARLB045 (1998)

ARLB045 Hams eat smoke in Florida

ARRL Bulletin 45  ARLB045
From ARRL Headquarters
Newington CT  June 19, 1998
To all radio amateurs

ARLB045 Hams eat smoke in Florida

Florida ARES and RACES teams--usually focusing on the annual
hurricane season that began June 1--have instead found themselves
dealing with tornadoes, floods, sink holes, drought, and, most
recently, devastating wild fires.

On June 6, several wildfires spawned drought broke out almost
simultaneously in Flagler, Seminole, Brevard, and Lake counties. The
Flagler fire consumed nearly 1700 acres, destroyed 19 homes, and
damaged others. As a result, part of I-95 was shut down and the Red
Cross set up a shelter with Amateur Radio Support. The Lake and
Brevard fires consumed a large area but only minimal damage to

In Seminole County an ARES-RACES net was activated, and the Red
Cross opened a shelter close to the fire zone. Seminole County ARRL
PIO Norm Lauterette, WA4HYJ, reports that nearly 300 residents were
evacuated from the 1800-acre Geneva fire zone, and nearly 60 others
took refuge in the shelter. In addition to tracking the flames, hams
helped to check on the whereabouts of individuals, handle medical
needs, and report the condition of homes and property. Most evacuees
were allowed to return to their homes June 7. In all, 54 homes and
structures were destroyed in the four Central Florida fires.

On June 16, Alachua County ARES/RACES responded to a call for help
from the county's emergency management office after brush fires
broke out in an approximately 16-square mile area. As of June 19,
the fires had burned more than 11 square miles and forced evacuation
of the entire town of Waldo--some 1100 people in all. Hams assisted
at shelters, in the EOC, and on the scene. At least a dozen hams
have participated in the fire emergency in Alachua County.

Jeff Capehart, KE4NIV, an ARES and SKYWARN member as well as a
volunteer firefighter, said severe thunderstorms passed through the
area in the midst of the fire and evacuation, so a SKYWARN net was
activated on top of the ARES net. Capehart says the rain brought
some relief and helped to control the fires.


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