DUNDEE — Polk County's brush fire plague continued Friday when multiple small fires were reported in Dundee for the second consecutive day.
Brush fires have scorched thousands of acres in Polk County, mostly in the southeast, since February as dry conditions persist, providing ideal conditions for the blazes. Some were started accidentally, but others were set by arsonists, officials believe.
Dundee Town Manager Ryan Taylor said Friday's fires were in the area of H.L. Smith Road and Bagley Road, but they were small. A downed power line may have caused the fires.
The calls came in after 2 p.m. There were properties with structures in the area, but none were ever thought to be in danger, Taylor said.
Polk Fire Rescue assisted the Dundee Fire Department in extinguishing the fires.
Brush fires have been breaking out across the county, with one in Lakeland on Thursday that scorched an area in northeast Lakeland, closing the George Jenkins Boulevard overpass for a time because of smoke from the fire that burned around the CSX railroad tracks.
The cause of the fire has not been determined.
Also on Thursday, Nichols Road at Anderson Road in the Mulberry area was closed about noon as Polk County Fire Rescue and State Forestry crews fought a 5- to 6-acre brushfire near 5000 Nichols Road in Mulberry. That fire was brought under control by about 12:45 p.m. Thursday.
The Indian Lake Estates area in southeast Polk County has been the hardest hit, with five fires reported in two days in mid-April, all of them suspicious.
The Florida Forest Service has put up signs, warning the residents to be on the lookout and report suspicious individuals. Anyone with information about a brush fire or wildfire started by a person is asked to call 800-342-5869. There is a $5,000 reward for information leading to an arrest.
Then in late April, a 700-acre fire prompted an evacuation order for Indian Lake Estate as flames came within about 100 feet of houses.
As the same time as that fire, Polk County Fire Rescue reported brush fires near Ponce De Leon Avenue, Winter Haven Drive and Red Grange Boulevard in Frostproof, and Magnolia Drive in Lake Wales.
And brush fire north of Lakeland burned 7 acres and destroyed a double-wide mobile home and a garage.
In February nearly 80 firefighters from multiple agencies battled a 5,500-acre brush fire in the Indian Lake Estates and River Ranch Hunt Club area in a remote area of southeast Polk.
Before the fire was brought under control, hundreds of residents fled their homes, and 12 Indian Lake Estates houses and at least 100 cabins, trailers and temporary structures at the Hunt Club were destroyed.
The County Commission issued a burn ban in late March in an effort to fight the brush fires as the dry, windy weather persisted.
The ban applies to any outdoor burning not regulated by the Florida Division of Forestry.
Violating the burn ban carries a fine of up to $500 fine or up to 60 days in jail or both penalties.
And the National Weather Service put the county under a Red Flag warning, meaning the danger of brush fires was high. During a Red Flag Warning, even low-cut grass can catch fire, and smokers need to ensure they fully snuff out cigarettes, Polk County Fire Rescue said.
Outside cooking should be kept inside a covered grill or pit.
Ledger reporters John Chambliss and Gary White contributed to this report.