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  1. #1
    District Chief distchief60b's Avatar
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    Post Bonita Springs Fla-- Wind Whipped 500 Acre Forest Fire

    NAPLES DAILY NEWS

    Wind complicates efforts to fight south Lee brush fire

    Wednesday, April 9, 2003
    By SONJA BJELLAND, skbjelland@naplesnews.com

    BONITA SPRINGS ó Firefighters tackled 500 acres of burning forest east of Bonita Springs on Tuesday that did not damage any homes.

    About 1 p.m., the Bonita Springs Fire Control and Rescue District responded to a small fire off Bonita Beach Road and Faygin Lane, about two miles east of Interstate 75, said Debbi Redfield, a district spokeswoman. As of 8 p.m. Tuesday, the fire was traveling northeast and not considered under control.

    "One of the biggest problems today and this afternoon was the wind," she said Tuesday. "The wind picked up and changed conditions. The fire follows the wind basically."

    Melaleuca and dense forest in that area required the state Division of Forestry to bring in tractors to create paths for the brush fire trucks to access the blaze. Then they created a circle around part of the area to help contain it. One of those tractor drivers was overcome with heat exhaustion and smoke inhalation and had to be taken to North Collier Hospital, Redfield said.

    Redfield said 81 people from 20 agencies helped with the fire, including the American Red Cross, which provided food and drinks. They used a helicopter and small plane to fight the flames.

    Fewer than 10 homes and business are in the area, so no one was evacuated and no structures were damaged.

    "There can be hunting camps and cabins but nothing we have been notified of or we have seen," she said.

    Between 9 and 10 p.m., the fire districts were shutting down operations and having brush trucks stand by. Redfield said fires usually die down at night when the winds calm. Today crews will survey the damage and search for any structures that may have been destroyed.

    The cause of the fire remains under investigation.

    The heavy smoke caused slow moving on the interstate from onlookers during rush hour.

    April 6-12 also has been designated Wildfire Awareness Week by the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services

    In Collier County, around 85 acres burned off Collier Boulevard near Marino Circle on Tuesday afternoon when a controlled burn by a private company got out of control around 2 p.m. The prescribed burn originally was about 30 acres behind Southern Sand and Stone Inc., authorities say.

    No houses were threatened by the fire, which was under control by around 6:30 p.m. Golden Gate fire spokesman Victor Hill said firefighters were concerned about blowing smoke reaching Interstate 75 and signs were going to be put up to warn motorists if the smoke shifted.

    East Naples, North Naples and Division of Forestry firefighters also were called to the scene.

    Staff Writer Brigid O'Malley contributed to this report.
    09-11 .. 343 "All Gave Some..Some Gave ALL" God Bless..R.I.P.
    ------------------------------
    IACOJ Minister of Southern Comfort
    "Purple Hydrant" Recipient (3 Times)
    BMI Investigator
    ------------------------------
    The comments, opinions, and positions expressed here are mine. They are expressed respectfully, in the spirit of safety and progress. They do not reflect the opinions or positions of my employer or my department.


  2. #2
    District Chief distchief60b's Avatar
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    Post Fire under investigation

    Bonita Daily News

    Search on for cause of blaze that burned 500 acres in south Lee

    Thursday, April 10, 2003
    By SONJA BJELLAND, skbjelland@naplesnews.com



    The suspicious blaze that fried 500 acres east of Bonita Springs smoldered Wednesday as investigators searched for a cause.

    About 5 p.m. Wednesday evening, the majority of firefighters and equipment left the command post at Manley Farms packing house across from the Palmira Country Club east of Interstate 75 on Bonita Beach Road. Throughout the day spotter planes instructed firefighters of flare-ups and brush trucks helped monitor smoking stumps, said Debbi Redfield, spokeswoman for the Bonita Springs Fire Control and Rescue District.

    Division of Forestry firefighters also recovered a more than 17,000-pound John Deere bulldozer out of the ash off Faygin Lane. Now they will have to repair the scorched outsides and blackened insides, said Gerry LaCavera, wildfire mitigation specialist with the agency. Fire came up quickly on the machine Tuesday and a firefighter in it escaped but was taken to North Collier Hospital with smoke inhalation and heat exhaustion.

    LaCavera said the firefighter did not have any major problems, but doctors wanted to make sure his lungs were not harmed so he remained at the hospital until Wednesday.

    "He was following all the safety rules or that would have made a much worse incident," he said.

    Fire causes plants such as melaleuca and saw palmettos to release seeds, making a dense forest even worse. Soon new plants will overrun the charred, ash-covered landscape. Even if the fire destroys some of the plants, only a chemical treatment after the fire can work toward a cure.

    "It would be wonderful if we had funds available and the people to do melaleuca eradication, but it's very time-consuming," he said. "Typically there's not much we can do with melaleuca. We mow it or we chop it and it regerminates."

    To put out the dense forest fires, the firefighters use the dozers to plow down the trees and then dig about a 3-foot-deep rut to stop the fire. Then the fire has nothing more to consume and may stop moving. The last major Bonita Springs brush fire in May scorched 40 acres and caused evacuations from residents' homes in San Carlos Estates. In 2001, a lightning strike set 900 acres ablaze near this one. Department of Agriculture personnel are investigating the cause of the fire. The majority are started by humans.

    "This might just be the precursor of other fires to come," LaCavera said. "People just need to be aware."
    09-11 .. 343 "All Gave Some..Some Gave ALL" God Bless..R.I.P.
    ------------------------------
    IACOJ Minister of Southern Comfort
    "Purple Hydrant" Recipient (3 Times)
    BMI Investigator
    ------------------------------
    The comments, opinions, and positions expressed here are mine. They are expressed respectfully, in the spirit of safety and progress. They do not reflect the opinions or positions of my employer or my department.

  3. #3
    District Chief distchief60b's Avatar
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    Post Wind causes fire to gain ground

    FLORIDA TIMES UNION

    Friday, April 11, 2003
    Story last updated at 05:15 a.m. on Friday, April 11, 2003

    Firefighters battle brush fire east of Bonita Springs
    The Associated Press


    BONITA SPRINGS, Fla. - Firefighters worked into a fourth day Friday to extinguish a brush fire that had burnt 600 acres but had so far left houses and people untouched.

    Fire officials could not immediately comment on the blaze's progress east of Bonita Springs early Friday. It had been under control Wednesday, but winds gusting up to 30 mph Thursday caused the fire to grow stronger, Bonita Springs Fire Department spokeswoman Debbi Redfield said.

    The fire burnt 100 acres Thursday, on top of the 500 that had been scorched since it started Tuesday

    The flames threatened nine house and farm buildings in a rural area, Redfield said Thursday. By nightfall, firefighters were able to protect all the structures from the advancing flames, she added.

    She said a road in the fire's path would act as a barrier.

    The melaleuca, pine and palm trees burnt by the fire gave off thick clouds of smoke that limited the vision of the more than 100 firefighters trying to control the blaze.

    No residents had been harmed, but one forestry firefighter was treated for smoke inhalation.

    High winds were forecast Friday morning.
    09-11 .. 343 "All Gave Some..Some Gave ALL" God Bless..R.I.P.
    ------------------------------
    IACOJ Minister of Southern Comfort
    "Purple Hydrant" Recipient (3 Times)
    BMI Investigator
    ------------------------------
    The comments, opinions, and positions expressed here are mine. They are expressed respectfully, in the spirit of safety and progress. They do not reflect the opinions or positions of my employer or my department.

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