Lutz and Land O’ Lakes: Evacuations no longer needed near fire in nature preserve

LUTZ, Fla. (AP) — Officials say voluntary evacuations are no longer needed in subdivisions near a wildfire burning in a Tampa Bay-area nature preserve.

Pasco County Government spokesman Doug Tobin said Sunday that the cause of the fire in Starkey Wilderness Park has not been determined.

The preserve remained closed Sunday, but the sheriff’s office and Florida Highway Patrol planned to reopen a nearby stretch of the Suncoast Parkway.

Tobin said residents who evacuated from subdivisions east of the preserve near Land O’ Lakes and Lutz could return home, though smoke could remain in the area.

A burn ban remains in effect in Pasco County.

Alligator bites girl in shallow lake waters at Florida park

0RLANDO, Fla. (AP) — An alligator bit a 10-year-old girl on the leg as she sat in shallow lake waters at a Florida park, authorities said.

The girl was with her family at Moss Park in Orange County when she was bitten Saturday, said Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission spokesman Chad Weber.

Weber said she was sitting in water roughly 2 feet deep when the 8-foot-9-inch gator bit her on her knee and calf.

“She had puncture wounds but I don’t think they’re life threatening,” Weber told the Orlando Sentinel (http://bit.ly/2pnpBUX ).

Her family took her to a hospital for treatment. Authorities trapped the alligator.

Orange County Parks and Recreation manager Matt Suedmeyer said the park’s waterfront areas were closed to swimmers for safety until further notice.

The Sentinel reported that a triathlete swimming in another lake flanking the park survived several bites from an alligator in 2010.

There have been 388 alligator bites on people in Florida since 1948, including 24 fatalities, according to the wildlife commission.

A 2-year-old Nebraska boy was killed by an alligator at Walt Disney World last June when the 7-foot animal dragged the child from the edge of a lagoon. Six non-fatal alligator bites also were reported statewide last year.

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News Talk Florida Staff