DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. -- Clients bound for Florida should be alerted
that, according to local health authorities, those with respiratory
problems should stay indoors if smoke from wildfires drifts into
And younger visitors who
look forward to outdoor activity need to know that daytime
temperatures are projected to reach the high 90s and low 100s.
Travelers will find it difficult to predict whether they will
encounter fire or smoke because wildfires are being touched off by
lightning in many areas of the state. About 265 were burning one
day this week.
Lingering smoke and/or haze was present last week in Daytona
Beach, Gainesville, Jacksonville, New Smyrna Beach, Orlando, Ormond
Beach, Perry and Tallahassee. In Orlando on Wednesday, electronic
signs on eastbound I-4 warned motorists to use other routes because
of smoke ahead. I-4 and I-95 (north-south) were subject to closure
by the Florida Highway Patrol. In addition, U.S. 92, one of the
best alternatives to I-4 between DeLand and Daytona Beach, was
closed in places.
National news reports about wildfires near Ormond Beach
generated inquiries from potential visitors to the Daytona Beach
Area Convention & Visitors Bureau, a spokeswoman said. But
there had not been a surge in cancellations, she added, because
coastal areas remain fire-free, although not always smoke-free.
She said that fireworks planned in conjunction with the July 4
Pepsi 400 stock car race at Daytona International Speedway will be
confined to a lake area for safety reasons. Jacksonville & the
Beaches Convention & Visitors Bureau reported that "smoky haze"
existed in the area but that all attractions remained open and July
4 weekend events, such as an air show over Amelia Island (Fla.)
Plantation, still are set. At least nine counties had canceled July
4 fireworks shows.
In the Orlando area, a Travel Weekly correspondent found there
was no smoke visible around Sea World and Universal Studios Florida
early on June 25. Parking lots appeared to have normal numbers of
cars, attendants at both parks said.
On eastbound Interstate-4, an electronic message board signs in
Orlando warned: "Heavy smoke, low visibility, Volusia County."
Volusia includes DeLand and Daytona Beach. About halfway to Daytona
Beach (a 35-minute drive northeast of Orlando), the smoke was
visible from I-4, a tourist told Travel Weekly.
Active fires were burning or had the potential to ignite in the
Apalachicola National Forest in northwest Florida and the Ocala
National Forest, north of Orlando, forestry officials said, adding
that clients headed for Everglades National Park and other wildlife
sanctuaries should check conditions with federal or state park
Although there are fewer fires in the southern half of Florida
than in the north, the drought conditions present a constant threat
statewide. Fires west of the Miami-Fort Lauderdale area were
contained at press time.
Campfires are banned statewide, and many communities are
prohibiting the sale of fireworks and their use, unless
administered by a public authority or an entity such as Walt Disney
At press time, the only Florida county that escaped wildfires
was Monroe, encompassing the Florida Keys and a sliver of the
Everglades. Florida Keys' local chambers of commerce and resorts
reported receiving only a handful of inquiries about conditions, a
spokeswoman for the Monroe County Tourist Development Council
For smoke-related road closure updates, call the Florida
Department of Transportation (800) 749-2967 in Florida; (904)