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Collier brush fire Friday claims 2 homes; County issues burn ban

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WGCU
A burn ban effective Saturday includes all unincorporated Collier County, but exempts all commercial agricultural burning, lawful controlled industrial or commercial environments that are part of the manufacturing or some type of assembly process, and those burning activities regulated by the Florida Forest Service.

A wildfire in the Wilson Boulevard area of Collier County Friday destroyed two homes, damaged several others and forced residents in several areas to evacuate their residences.

The brush fire erupted shortly after a burn ban was authorized in Collier County, effective Saturday and until further notice, due to abnormally dry environmental conditions.

The fire shut down traffic in the area of Immokalee Road, Everglades Avenue and Wilson Boulevard Friday afternoon. Immokalee Road was reopened around 8 p.m. Friday and evacuations lifted shortly before midnight.

A damage assessment by the North Collier Fire District listed the following as of 1 p.m. Saturday:

  • 2 homes totaled
  • 3 homes minor damage
  • 8 vehicles
  • 19 utility trailers
  • 20 sheds or ancillary buildings
  • 1 John Deere backhoe
  • 4 miscellaneous lawn equipment
  • 4 boats
  • 1 semi trailer used as storage
  • 2 RV trailers
  • 1 construction loader
  • 3 jet skis

North Collier and other fire departments along with the Florida Forestry Service remained on scene Saturday at Wilson and Jung boulevards with multiple units and urged people to avoid the area due to down power lines. The FFS said the 300-acre fire in that area was 50 percent contained.

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North Collier Fire Control District
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Special to WGCU
The North Collier Fire Control District said that while a significant amount of department resources were being utilized to fight a wildfire in the Wilson Boulevard areas they assured residents that the rest of the district is protected and they brought in additional staffing.

The burn ban, authorized by the Collier County Board of County Commissioners, prohibits open burning, which is any outdoor fire or open combustion of material that produces visible emissions, of trash and yard waste, which includes vegetative matter resulting from landscaping and yard maintenance operations. The ban comes under Collier County Ordinance 2009-23, allowing the County Manager to recommend an immediate ban of outdoor burning and outdoor ignition sources during extreme drought conditions.

The decision came after consultation between the Collier County Bureau of Emergency Services, Florida Forest Service, Collier County Fire Chiefs’ Association, Collier County Sheriff’s Office, and the National Weather Service.

The group jointly identified a need to have a burning ban become effective immediately after certain environmental conditions were met, including abnormally dry conditions that are expected to linger through the end of March.

The ban includes all unincorporated Collier County, but exempts all commercial agricultural burning, lawful controlled industrial or commercial environments that are part of the manufacturing or some type of assembly process, and those burning activities regulated by the Florida Forest Service. This ban presently has no impact on the retail sales of fireworks, although the discharge of fireworks, sparklers and incendiary devices is prohibited.

In addition, outdoor grills, stoves, cookers and smokers may be used in the preparation of food if the cooking fire is controlled and attended to. All outdoor cooking areas shall be free of burnable materials within an area having a circumference of three feet beyond the nearest edge of the cooking fire.

Violation of the order, if it is found to cause irreparable or irreversible damage, can be up to $15,000.

For more information, call 311 or (239) 252-8999.

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