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Golden Gate Estates in Collier County is Ablaze

Quincy J. Walters
A Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation truck blocks a roadway boarderd by smoldering trees

Collier County officials say about 5,500 acres are on fire in the Golden Gates Estates area near Naples. Welcome rain has just started falling nearby. 

Seven thousand homes are under mandatory evacuations.  At least nine homes have been destroyed. A voluntary evacuation is also in effect, yet some people have chosen to stay. 

Governor Rick Scott dispatched the Florida National Guard Friday to help with the evacuation. This morning, Scott spoke at the Collier County Emergency Management building. 

"Some people are waking up to their homes destroyed and their lives completely changed," said Scott. "This is an incredibly heartbreaking and challenging time." 

Credit Quincy J Walters / WGCU News
Gov. Rick Scott holds a press conference giving an update on the Golden Gate Estate fires

Firefighters from Miami-Dade, Sarasota, Broward and Charlotte counties came to help fight the blaze, Scott said.

Dan Summers, director of Collier County's Emergency Management said the goal is to reduce the boundaries of the mandatory evacuation area. 

"There may be areas that we reopen as we continue to get this fire downsized," said Summers. He said a fire in this area presents a unique challenge because of the area's diverse landscape. 

"We have both a mix of open land," said Summers. "We have that brush fire where we may not have as tall of vegetation and we've got the urban interface where the brush is."

Summers said the vegetation is dry, which makes the fire spread more easily.

"It's not even brown, it's grey," he said about the dry vegetation. "It is prime for burning."

Summers said there has been one civilian injury reported. 

So far, there is no known cause of the fire.