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Everglades fire forces prison evacuation

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  • NEW: More than 2,200 inmates and detainees are moved to other facilities
  • Fires consuming thousands of acres across Florida, officials say
  • Fire official says Everglades wildfire about 30 percent contained
  • Smell of "burning tires" permeates air, says Broward County resident

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(CNN) -- A fast-moving wildfire in South Florida forced the evacuation of more than 2,200 inmates and detainees on Monday, authorities said.

About 1,700 inmates were evacuated from Everglades Correctional Institution.

The Krome Detention Center, which houses 535 people, was also evacuated, said officials with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

The evacuees were being taken to other facilities, corrections officials said. Video Watch inmates pushed out by fire »

The wildfire has scorched 36,000 acres of the Everglades National Park and is the largest in a series of blazes that erupted in Florida recently.

The blaze had been held to areas inside the park but winds have been pushing to the southwest, dangerously close to the detention center, said Nina Barrow of the Southern Area Inter-Agency Management Blue Team.

The fire in the southern Florida park of hiking trails and campgrounds was about 30 percent contained Monday, said Barrow.

"We are making some progress on the fire, and we may get some help with the weather today," Barrow said. "Forecasts today said we have our best chance of rain in the next week or so -- a 30 percent chance -- but we also have a chance of lightning."

The fire sent a haze of smoke over parts of South Florida -- including Miami.

Visibility in some parts of Broward County could be as low as a quarter-mile, the weather service said.

Gary Takes, who lives north of Miami in Broward, said thick smoke hung in his neighborhood Monday, leaving an odor that smelled like "burning tires." Learn how wildfires spread »

"The stench permeates through the ventilation system at the office as well as within your car while commuting," Takes said. "Most people in the area are very edgy, with lawns and vegetation the brownest they have been in many years."

Five fire crews were battling the blaze Monday as helicopters dropped water from overhead, Barrow said. Firefighters were working to protect structures in the park and also the Cape Sable seaside sparrow, a federally protected species whose only habitat is in the Everglades. Send your wildfire photos, videos

Firefighters also were battling blazes in other parts of Florida, according to state and federal fire officials:

In Glades County, the Myakka Cut fire threatened the towns of Moore Haven and Lakeport. The fire, about five miles north of Clewiston, was burning about 19,000 acres and was 50 percent contained.

Six fires raging across 12,500 acres in Brevard County near Palm Bay were about 80 percent contained Monday morning. The National Interagency Fire Center said it expected the fires to be fully contained by Tuesday. Damage totals more than $9 million, officials said. Last week, Florida authorities charged a suspect with arson in connection with some of the fires in Palm Bay.

The Mud Swamp fire in Liberty County, about five miles northeast of Sumatra, was scorching about 1,400 acres -- some of it in the Apalachicola National Forest -- and was 80 percent contained.


An 800-acre fire in Volusia County, about six miles west of Daytona Beach, was almost fully contained, and firefighters were conducting "mop-up activities," according to the Florida Division of Forestry.

A 225-acre fire that started on the shoulder of Interstate 75 in Sarasota County caused two "rubbernecking"-related highway accidents, the forestry division reported. The fire was about 60 percent contained Monday.

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