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Rental Car Lot Fire Burns 3,500 Vehicles, 15 Acres

A massive fire destroyed more than 3,500 vehicles in a rental car overflow lot near Southwest Florida International Airport  Friday afternoon. The fire took hours to contain after it spread to nearby woods.

Black smoke from the burning cars could be seen for miles as helicopters flew low trying to douse the flames from above. 


A county-wide response brought firefighters from Fort Myers, Estero, Bonita Beach, and barrier islands like Sanibel, and Fort Myers Beach.  Once several hundred cars were burning, the flames jumped to nearby brush and woods, where the fire consumed about 15 acres.



Fire mitigation expert Melinda Avni with the Florida Forest Service said crews set up barriers to stop the spread, and put the fire out by Saturday morning. 


“Conditions are very dry, we’re coming to where we normally have our fire season," Avni said. "We haven’t received any lightening storms yet, so, so far we’re good. But if we get more lightening before we get any significant rain, we might see more incidents like this."


Avni said Friday's fire started with a few cars, which spread to twenty, then became several hundred very quickly. What set those intial few cars ablaze is under investigation.