Wildfires close Tampa Bay-area nature preserve, highways

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) — Florida officials are evacuating a nature preserve and shutting down stretches of highways in the Tampa Bay-area because of wildfires.

Pasco County Government spokesman Doug Tobin said all trails into Starkey Wilderness Park and all its campsites were closed Saturday due to a fire within the preserve.

Tobin said the county also requested voluntary evacuations of subdivisions east of the preserve near Land O’ Lakes and Lutz because the blaze was threatening to cross the Suncoast Parkway.

Florida Highway Patrol closed northbound Interstate-75 in Hillsborough County on Saturday afternoon. Hillsborough County Fire Rescue spokesman Corey Dierdorff said three brush fires had burned about 200 acres near the highway.

Dierdorff said Tampa Police and the sheriff’s office were using helicopters to drop water on the fires.


Rhode Island pilot killed in small plane crash in Florida

CLEARWATER, Fla. (AP) — Authorities say a Rhode Island man died when his single-engine plane flipped and crashed as it tried to land at a Florida airport.

Clearwater Public Safety spokesman Rob Shaw said 44-year-old James R. Fink of Exeter, Rhode Island, tried to land his 2007 Cirrus fixed-wing aircraft Friday evening at Clearwater Airpark.

According to Shaw, the plane came to rest upside down on the runway after it flipped and crashed. The runway remained closed Saturday morning as airport officials waited for investigators from the Federal Aviation Administration and the National Transportation Safety Board.

Shaw said Fink had flown to Clearwater for a business conference. No one else was in the plane, and no injuries on the ground were reported.


Miami art museum celebrates 1M visitors since 2013 opening

MIAMI (AP) — Perez Art Museum Miami is celebrating a milestone: one million visitors since the waterfront museum opened in December 2013.

According to a statement, the museum officially welcomed its one-millionth visitor on Thursday. Director Franklin Sirmans said the museum was “very proud” to reach that milestone three years after the new building opened in downtown Miami overlooking Biscayne Bay.

The museum identified Miami resident Anya Brjevskaia as the one-millionth visitor. Along with her 2-year-old son, she was welcomed with confetti, balloons and a gift basket.

Officials said education programs, free community nights and exhibitions by Julio Le Parc and Ai Weiwei have contributed to the museum’s growth.

In the statement, Miami Mayor Tomas Regalado said the museum has “strengthened Miami’s reputation as a global capital of contemporary art year round.”

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News Talk Florida Staff