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Grass fire threatens Cape homes

By Staff | Mar 27, 2009

A grass fire burned so close to several north Cape Coral homes Thursday afternoon, an unknown hero was compelled to jump the backyard fences and spray the yards with a garden hose.
The man, who residents knew only as “Brad,” helped keep the homes safe until firefighters arrived to put out the acrewide blaze near Northwest 14th Avenue and Kismet Parkway.
“That (fire) was just raring,” said Jerry Martin, whose house along with neighbor Steve Zerkel was surrounded by the smoldering black remnants of the fire. “I never saw that guy before, but man am I glad I saw him today. He’s a hero. He saved my house.”
Martin, Zerkel and John Mellor, who lives across the street on Northwest 24th Terrace, said they did not know Brad other than that he drove a maroon-colored Mustang and lives nearby, but they are grateful for his efforts.
The fire broke out at about 11:44 a.m., and Cape firefighters had extinguished the fire by 12:01 p.m., said city spokesperson Connie Barron.
Several trees ignited in the blaze but no homes were damaged, aside from lawns being somewhat blackened from the fire. No one was injured, Barron said.
Zerkel was driving home when he saw police cars along Kismet.
“I thought it was an accident or something,” he said.
But as Zerkel approached he realized it was a much different scenario.
“I was hoping my house wasn’t on fire,” he said.
Zerkel’s house was spared in the blaze along with his neighbors’ homes.
“It came right up to the air conditioner,” Zerkel said, pointing to the side of the house.
Fire officials had not yet determined the cause of the fire Thursday evening.
Mellor expressed concern that the fire, along with several others in the area in recent weeks, may have been sparked by drivers throwing burning cigarettes from their vehicles.
“We just have to all be very diligent about what’s going on,” he said. “It doesn’t take long (for a fire to spread) as dry as it is.”