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  1. #1
    District Chief distchief60b's Avatar
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    Default East NAples Fla--Brush Fire

    Jumpy blaze lashes out

    Residents grow uneasy as brush fire eats 40-plus acres

    By GRANT BOXLEITNER
    GBOXLEITNER@NEWS-PRESS.COM
    Published by news-press.com on April 27, 2005

    Blaze hits east Naples
    Firefighters spent much of Tuesday tackling a brush fire that grew to nearly 100 acres in a wooded area of east Naples, state Division of Forestry officials said.
    Homes and businesses were spared by the blaze that burned in an undeveloped area north of Lely High School and Wildflower Way, fire officials said. The cause of the fire, which began about 2 p.m., was not immediately known. "They contemplated some evacuations, but they didn't have to go through with it," said Hank Graham, district manager of the state Division of Forestry's Caloosahatchee District. "It was looking really good, but it popped one of our (fire) lines at about 6 p.m."
    A division of forestry Huey helicopter equipped with a 300-gallon bucket was called across the state from fighting a fire in Southeast Florida late Tuesday afternoon, Graham said.

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    A stubborn brush fire kept some North Fort Myers residents and business owners uneasy as it hopped roads and kept firefighters on the move for nearly five hours Tuesday.

    The 40-plus-acre blaze began about 2 p.m. in a wooded section of North Fort Myers Community Park off Business 41, quickly scorching trees north toward Littleton Road. The cause of the fire was still under investigation late Tuesday.

    Downed trees from Hurricane Charley, including Australian pines and melaleucas, only complicated the containment efforts, said North Fort Myers Fire Chief Terry Pye.

    "Fuel in there that hasn't burned in years is burning," said Pye, who declared the fire 85 percent contained at 7 p.m.

    Before the fire was under control, the back section of the Lazy Days Mobile Village community at 2524 N. Tamiami Trail was under a voluntary evacuation, according to North Fort Myers fire Capt. Derrill Alvarez.

    Firefighters also protected six homes on Laurel Road from a smaller fire that broke off the main blaze, Pye said.

    Heavy smoke from the blaze prompted fire officials and deputies to close Littleton Road east of U.S. 41 and Business 41 between Powell Drive and Laurel for most of the late afternoon hours.

    North winds with gusts up to 35 mph made burning conditions superb. Three state Division of Forestry bulldozer operators couldn't get lines dug around the flames fast enough, said Senior Ranger Jim Isaacs.

    "It was jumping over everything we put up," he said.

    No structures were lost in the blaze, fire officials said, but there were some close calls. Firefighters stood guard as the fire burned a path close behind Scottie's Canvas & Marine Outfitters at 2211 N. Tamiami Trail.

    "We were worried for a bit," said Scottie's owner Stephen Sibbald. "It was amazing how fast that burned."

    The fire then hopped Littleton and Business 41 and threatened businesses and homes along that corridor. Bob Buck, owner of Buck's Nursery, could only watch as crews doused a group of trees next to potted trees and plants on his property at 2556 N. Tamiami Trail.

    Buck, who lives on the property, was told by fire officials to evacuate and move across the street for a short time when the fire first threatened the area.

    "We're so lucky," Buck said. "I'm proud of the firefighters. They really have done a great job."

    Across the street, residents of Southern Villas mobile home park stared anxiously at the plume of smoke north of Littleton Road.

    "Every time I come out of my house," it's in a different spot," said Ed Gotham, 70. "I'm a newcomer to this state, so this is something new for me."

    Sheriff's deputies stood watch in the back section of the Palmona Park neighborhood off Pine Island Road in case the fire shifted.

    Flying embers ahead of a wall of flames ignited small grass fires north of Littleton Road in front of Smith's Glass Shop at the intersection of Littleton and O'Neal Drive.

    "You could see flames coming up," said Smith's employee Nancy Claycomb. "We were worried."

    NBC2 chief meteorologist Robert Van Winkle said rain was likely to fall in North Fort Myers before dawn today. A handful of crews controlled hot spots until about 11 p.m.

    In all, 27 fire units from North Fort Myers, Bayshore, Fort Myers and the Division of Forestry fought the blaze, along with a forestry plane that circled the fire from the air, Pye said
    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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    Default

    Naples wildfire controlled with rain

    By DENES HUSTY III
    DHUSTY@NEWS-PRESS.COM
    Published by news-press.com on April 28, 2005


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    Overnight rains helped firefighters control a wildfire that blackened some 100 acres of woods Tuesday east of Naples and caused the partial evacuation of a nearby nursing home.

    "We got lucky when the rains came, but this rain is just a temporary fix," warned Jim von Rinteln, Collier County Emergency Management coordinator.

    A wildfire alert had been in effect.

    Until the annual rainy season begins in late May to early June, people need to be careful and take precautions to avoid accidentally starting fires that can rage out of control, von Rinteln said.

    "All it takes is a few windy days without any rain to dry everything out," he said.

    Conditions were ideal Tuesday — with tinder-dry brush and 20 mph winds — for the wildfire that charred woods between U.S. 41 East and Rattlesnake Hammock Road, von Rinteln said.

    The cause of the fire, he said, is "suspicious."

    Investigators have not been able to determine the cause of the fire, Doug Dyer, deputy chief of the East Naples Fire Department, said.

    The blaze was the first major wildfire in the county this year, authorities said.

    The fire burned from Tuesday afternoon into the night until the rain starting pouring around midnight, von Rinteln said.

    At one point, about 10 people with breathing problems had to be evacuated from a nursing home near the fire, he said.

    However, firefighters stopped the flames from getting to the home and the other residents did not have to be evacuated.

    There were no reported injuries.

    About 100 firefighters, police and emergency management personnel were called to the fire scene, von Rinteln said.
    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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