Brush fire threatens homes, prompts evacuations in Polk County

- Rain fell on a brush fire that's been threatening homes in the Frostproof area of southeastern Polk County, prompting evacuations in the Indian Lake Estates community.

The showers of rain were short lived and did not do much to curb the fire burning 1,600 acres on both sides of Highway 630, according to the Florida Fire Service. High winds ahead of an approaching cold front are helping whip the flames.  

"Some of the fire was over 10 feet high right on the shoulder of the road," said witness Chris Edwards, who drove through the smoke Wednesday.

EVACUEE INFORMATION: A shelter for evacuees has been set up at First Presbyterian Church, 16 North 3rd Street, Lake Wales, FL, 33853. Residents can also call the Citizens' Information Line on 863-401-2234 or toll free at (866) 661-0228.

All 800 homes in Indian Lake Estates are under an evacuation order, as well as the River Ranch hunting grounds.  Polk County Fire Rescue says reverse 911 is being used to contact residents who live in the area, urging some residents to evacuate. Crews are also going door-to-door.

Resident Keith Asbell grabbed his four kids and took off. 

"They possibly may burn down our house right now," he said.  "We grabbed whatever we could, packed, and hope and pray."

"We are winter residents," offered Joanne Fink. "We have never experienced anything like this. Scary!"

At least one home has been damaged but not destroyed, and Polk Fire Rescue says "a few" animals have been injured.

Bulldozers and helicopters are lending support to firefighters.

Around 5:30, a line of storms associated with the passing cold front began drenching the area.  Fire crews hope the rain will help douse the flames.

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