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Dozens of Homes Lost as Florida Battles Wildfires

PALM BAY, Fla. (AP) - Smoke and the proximity of the flames across Florida's Atlantic coast have closed off major highways in the area, including a 34-mile section of Interstate 95 south of the fires.

It's the third day that firefighters are working in Brevard County to stop flames that have scorched about 3,800 acres -- about 6 square miles -- in the neighboring towns of Palm Bay and Malabar. Four homes have been destroyed and about 70 damaged.

Governor Charlie Crist has declared a state of emergency, allowing Florida to use federal funds and bring local emergency workers under state control. It also allows Florida to call on other states for help, if necessary.

Firefighters may get some help. The National Weather Service says winds on the coast are expected to slow.

About 80 miles north in Daytona Beach, an 800-acre fire forced an evacuation order yesterday for about 500 homes. But residents have been allowed to return. No structures were damaged.

(Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)


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