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Fire near central Florida military base torches 8,000 acres

Staff Writer |
Florida crews are working a brush fire that's so far burned more than 8,000 acres, a military spokesman said.

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Military units conducting training exercises sparked the blaze on Wednesday afternoon, a spokesman for the Avon Park Air Range said.

He suggested that a rocket, missile or some other incendiary device may have started it.

Thousands of acres on the border between Highlands and Polk County have burned so far, officials said. The Florida Fire Service estimated the blaze's size Friday at 8,000 acres.

Crews are using a backfiring tactic to control the flames, which involves setting fire to nearby unburned vegetation so the blaze has no resources to grow, WFLA-TV, Tampa, reported.

Bulldozers, a common piece of firefighting equipment, are not being used because of possible unexploded ordnance on the base.

Officials said the controlled burn has contained the flames on three sides. So far, no serious injuries or evacuations were reported.

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