Fewer Cuban rafts trying to reach US soil along the Florida coast

KEY WEST, Fla. (AP) — The U.S. Coast Guard says Cuban migrants are less likely to use homemade rafts to try to reach Florida since the end of a policy granting residency to Cubans arriving on American soil.

Lt. j.g. Kate Webb of Coast Guard Sector Key West said overall interdictions have dropped from as many as 25 a day to about 20 per month since President Barack Obama ended the “wet foot, dry foot” policy Jan. 12.

Webb said Tuesday that up to 70 percent of interdictions now involve go-fast boats, not the rustic vessels called “chugs.” The speedboats are towed to shore for law enforcement investigations.

Capt. Jeffrey Janszen told The Citizen (http://bit.ly/2oGSOt3 ) that migrants pay up to $10,000 each to cross aboard go-fast boats, compared with several hundred dollars in a chug.


2 killed in crash while using emergency lane to pass

NAPLES, Fla. (AP) — Authorities say a crash killed two men who were using the emergency lane to pass traffic on Interstate 75 in southwest Florida.

The Naples Daily News (https://goo.gl/eTxbZM) reports that the crash occurred Sunday night.

Florida Highway Patrol says a box truck had been parked on the outside shoulder of I-75, and 20-year-old Joel Diaz Lemus crashed into it. Lemus and his passenger, 21-year-old Daniel Ramirez Ortiz, died at the scene.

The box truck was not occupied at the time of the crash.

Growing wildfire in Okefenokee refuge exceeds 90 sq. miles

FOLKSTON, Ga. (AP) — Officials say a wildfire on public lands near the Georgia-Florida state line has burned more than 90 square miles (233 sq. kilometers) as winds spread the flames through dry areas of the Okefenokee Swamp.

A news release by the firefighting command team said the overall area of the blaze grew more than 22 percent between Monday and Tuesday. So far, nearly all of the burned acreage has been confined to the Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge in southeast Georgia and the neighboring Osceola National Forest and John M. Bethea State Forest in Florida.

The National Weather Service said Tuesday that winds were pushing smoke and falling ash into communities a few miles east of the Okefenokee refuge including Folkston, Georgia, and Hilliard, Florida.