Lake County Firefighters responded to a 911 call for a small grass fire on Feb. 4. What firefighters found upon their arrival was a different story.
"Our first arriving truck reported a fast moving brush fire, a shed on fire, and multiple homes in immediate danger," Lt. Brian Gamble, Vice President of the Professional Firefighters of Lake County said.
"This crew of only two firefighters acted quickly and protected the residence near the shed. The fire came within about 50 feet of this house."
A neighboring house did not fare as well. This mobile home was also lost to the fast moving blaze.
"Our crews tried stretching lines to the neighboring mobile home, but could not reach it in time. The terrain conditions prevented our fire trucks from being able to get close to the home. The trucks sank in the soft sand conditions around the house. Arriving officers immediately requested a second alarm assignment that dispatched city and county units from all over. We were fortunate enough to make it to the next home and make sure that everyone was out,and set up protection there. The third residence on the street was saved as well"
The fast moving brush fire consumed a shed and the neighboring mobile home before moving into a dried up lake bed on one side and a farm of mature planted pine trees on the other side. Additional responding fire crews were quickly diverted to Royal Highlands subdivision to fight the fire if it crossed the lake bed.
"One of the biggest challenges we faced was that our tankers could not make it down Soto Road without getting stuck in sand and mud. The dirt road was in poor condition and if one truck became stuck, that would have prevented all the rest of our trucks from getting to the fire," said Gamble.
"Every time a brush truck or engine ran out of water, they had to travel over a mile of rough dirt terrain to be refilled. This precious time lost allowed the fire to keep moving," Lt. Gamble explained.
The blaze took several hours to bring under control and consumed around 20 acres. Approximately 20 fire units responded with over 40 firefighters from Lake County, Groveland, Leesburg, Fruitland Park and the Florida Division of Forestry to assist.
The Florida Division of Forestry reported to have determined the fire was started by careless burning of trash and issued a citation to the person that started the fire.
Units on scene: Lake County, Fruitland Park, Leesburg FD, Groveland FD, FDOF, (E82, E83, SQ76, BAT52, BAT90, BAT21, E94, BR94, BR82, BR78, BR15, W21, T78, T59, T71, T110, T77, BR56, BR64, E64?