Brush Fire Closes Interstate 4 Near Disney World In Orlando

By: CNN, Posted by Chelsey Moran
By: CNN, Posted by Chelsey Moran

(CNN) -- A brush fire in Orlando near Disney World prompted authorities to bar traffic in both directions along a major highway running through the central Florida city, a police spokeswoman said.

Large plumes of white and gray smoke hovered over and around Interstate 4, footage from CNN affiliate WKMG showed.

Flames rising about 6 feet high could be seen rising from one section off the highway, just off an exit ramp to Epcot/Downtown Disney and South International Drive. Firefighters aboard what looked like a red pickup truck drove up to it and shot water to subdue that part of the fire.

Other overhead footage showed a tractor-like vehicle roving through lightly forested areas off the highway, where small patches of fire were evident.

By 3 p.m., eastbound lanes of that interstate highway had been shut down around Osceola Parkway because of the fire, according to Kim Montes, a spokeswoman for the Florida Highway Patrol. Traffic in that direction is being diverted onto U.S. 417, she said.

Soon afterward, state troopers shut westbound lanes of the same highway, shuttling that traffic onto U.S. 528. Traffic in both directions will be closed "until further notice," Montes said.

Joseph Sikon, a 21-year-old who attends medical school in Orlando, said he first noticed the blaze after getting out of a movie theater Friday afternoon in Downtown Disney, part of the Walt Disney World Resort.

"It was this large cloud of pluming smoke," said Sikon, a CNN iReporter. "Obviously, it was a very large fire."

The fire struck in and around a tourist haven at the onset of Memorial Day weekend, traditionally one of the busiest travel periods of the year.

This month, AAA predicted that there would be a 1.2% increase in travel through Florida this weekend, compared with the same period last year. Overall, the organization expects 34.8 million people nationwide to travel 50 miles or more over this Memorial Day stretch, the vast majority of them -- 30.7 million -- doing so by car, truck or bus.

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