ORMOND BEACH, Fla. (AP) _ With a touch of defiance, Sue Morris watched as a helicopter dropped water on uncontrolled flames about a mile from her home.

She had already removed her three horses from her five-acre property and placed a sprinkler on her barn. The dirt streets of her neighborhood were filled with a choking smoke.

But like many people threatened by fires for the fifth straight day, Ms. Morris chose to ignore a voluntary evacuation advisory.

``I want to stay to protect my house,'' she said Wednesday.

Hundreds of residents in Ormond Beach, DeLand and Port Orange have been asked to leave their homes since dozens of fires broke out in Volusia County, northwest of Orlando, last Saturday. Most have refused.

With the South stuck in a heat wave that has withered crops, firefighters have struggled to keep up with new blazes, even with the support of airplanes, helicopters, water tankers and bulldozers. Gov. Lawton Chiles is considering a statewide ban on fireworks.

In Flagler County, north of Ormond Beach, fires are threatening hundreds of homes. Sheriff's deputies have gone door-to-door informing residents of a mandatory evacuation order issued Tuesday. But they didn't enforce it.

Many residents wanted to soak their homes with water. Others feared looters. ``There are people cruising around already,'' Ms. Morris said.

Small fires that broke out Wednesday near DeLand were set intentionally, fire officials said. Investigators were also questioning two juveniles suspected of starting fires in Ormond Beach on Monday.

``There are a lot of wackos running around,'' said Stan Rosevear, chairman of the Volusia County Council. ``I don't know if they like fires, but if that's their bag, God help us.''

If winds calm down today, authorities planned to drop dozens of ping-pong balls filled with chemicals to create small fires when they hit. The idea is to burn out scrub brush and grass that can fuel larger fires.

More than 50,000 acres of woodlands, scrub and dried-out swamplands have burned in Volusia County. The area has had 3 inches of rain since April, about a foot less than expected. June is normally the wettest month for much of Florida.

Dozens of other fires are burning throughout Florida. In many cases, as soon as firefighters beat down one blaze, another flared nearby.

Unrelenting heat and a lack of rain have made Florida dangerously dry, causing the worst outbreak of fires in more than 50 years. Since May 25, fires throughout the state have scorched about 135,000 acres. One person died of a heart attack during an evacuation and nearly 30 have been injured.

In Georgia, state officials are seeking federal disaster aid to offset farmers' crop losses due to a three-month drought that shows no signs of easing.