Wild Fires in South Florida. Memories of 1986 Fires in the Glades & Miami Beach.
Let's go back in time to 1986. There were fires in the glades that year and the smoke spread across a good part of South Florida..........including and all the way to Miami Beach. When the wind shifted out of the west even the beaches could feel the taste of the fires in the back of our throats.
Usually smoke from wild fires are a problem for people who live out in Homestead, Kendall or Westchester what we call South Dade or SW Miami. Neighborhoods that were built over land that only existed after early developers drained the Everglades by blowing up the rapids on the Miami River. At the time.. it seemed like a good idea....
What's that you say? You didn't know there were rapids on the Miami River once upon a time?
The "rapids" which were at that time a pretty picnic site for young lovers to sit and watch the water race over the rapids around 27th Avenue and the Miami River. That's not really far from downtown Miami and it allows you to understand how much of the Everglades were drained and how we paved paradise and put up a lot of parking lots...as the song goes.
A nice link with more recent historic pictures of the Miami River.
Basically people went out to watch the dynamiting venture and saw the water rushing down the river. Upstream the land was suddenly exposed, dark, murky, rich soil that had never really seen the light of day was now available for orange groves and the eventual suburban subdivisions.
Allapattah was one of those early distant suburbs..on the other side of the river but still within view practically of downtown. After the rapids were dynamited the whole area to the west of there was fair game for whoever had the money to invest in land. Next time you fly into MIA airport... remember it was once covered with a river of grass... commonly known as The Everglades.
Here's a beautiful song by one of my old time friends from way back when ;)
Incredible song... Lanny Smith aka "Earthman"
The truth is there were wild fires in the Everglades before man began recording the history of South Florida. Lightning from the sky, from May storms and the monsoons that hit Miami every year in May (and sometimes April) ignite fires that are part of the process of keeping the whole ecosystem going. Unfortunately, now days meaning the last 100 years or so, homes, highways and people are thrown into the mix. The fires create health problems, traffic jams and incredible sunsets. Sometimes they get too close to subdivisions that have come too close to the Everglades and need to be monitored, put out and then usually the rains come. This year is one of those years.
Back in 1986 I had a small baby who had shown a few signs of possibly having asthmatic problems. His older brother had asthma, an older sister had a bit of asthma and I have asthma...so this was not that surprising. He was young, not yet a year old and I kept hoping against hope it was just a cold or a runny nose. I was at work and his sitter called me saying he was having problems breathing. She was just a few blocks away but when I left the school where I taught I could smell the smoke as if it was just across the Bay not miles away in the Glades. The sky had a dark, gray almost brownish orange look to it. I took the baby to the doctor whose office was on Arthur Godfrey Drive a few miles away and he sent me to Mt. Sinai a block or two away for him to have better breathing treatments than he could get at his office. "Fire season" he told me... "riles up all the allergies, every kid in town with asthma is sick today." Official diagnosis.. asthma. Nope, I'll never forget seeing that much smoke on Miami Beach in the air driving down Alton Road. It looked as if the golf course was on fire... It was I may add a pretty sunset from his room overlooking Biscayne Bay facing the west ...and the setting sun. It reminded me of how beautiful the sunsets were in California on a smoggy day.
It was a slow season in ways in 1986. We were coming off of an El Nino. The fires were bad. Andrew in 1986 stayed far from South Florida. Fires however plagued us in the mid 1980s. And, then things change as they always do. The 1980s were strong years for Gulf Coast storms as hurricanes moved north through the Gulf of Mexico towards landfall and Miami built like we would never see a landfalling hurricane again. When I moved back to Miami in 1985 the joke was that if you stood too long on Dixie Highway they would start building a condo on top of you.
1986 Atlantic Hurricane Season.
Ps... yes they did it in Hawaii too... and a lot of other places including the beautiful beach cities of LA ;)
Looks a bit like Miami doesn't??
Now you can relax to the beautiful song below...