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Local crews continue to battle brush fire in north Cape

By Staff | May 31, 2011

Local and state fire crews continued to battle a 250-acre brush fire today off of Burnt Store Road near the Charlotte County line.
The fire, located just south of the county line, runs east toward Burnt Store. As of about 1 p.m., crews had the fire about 75 percent contained, and they anticipate having the fire about 100 percent contained before the day’s end.
“We’ll work the rest of the day on this,” Mike Weston, senior forester with the Florida Division of Forestry, said.
According to Weston, the fire started Saturday night and covered about 75 acres. When the wind shifted Monday afternoon, the fire’s coverage grew.
“The fire actually grew. It’s a very long skinny fire,” he said. “It ran about a mile yesterday.”
Burnt Store was closed for about three hours Monday night, but crews got the fire about 60 percent contained by early this morning. Weston said there are eight fire districts, including the Cape, working to contain the rest of it.
“We’re trying to keep it out of the cypress areas,” he said.
Hundreds of acres have burned along the city’s limits in the last few days.
Division Chief Tom Tomich, with the Cape Coral Fire Department, said fire crews also dealt with a 75-acres brush fire and a 200-acre brush fire near the north end of Andulsia Boulevard over the holiday weekend. Started by lightening, both fires were in wooded areas.
“It’s all lightening,” he said.
Both were 100 percent contained as of today.
“So, there’s been 600 acres burned, conservatively, over the weekend,” Tomich said, adding that it is “just as the weather conditions change.”
He explained that westward moving storm fronts moved through Monday.
“The entire state of Florida is very dry at this point and much of it is burning,” Tomich said.
No residences or structures in the Cape had been damaged or destroyed from the weekend fires as of today. With the Burnt Store fire, the main goal for crews is to keep it from crossing the road and endangering area homes.
“We were able to keep it from jumping Burnt Store last night,” he said.
No structures were in immediate danger as of today.
Weston said the lack of rain, humidity levels in the mid-30s and winds of 14 to 20 mph increase the chance of fires and the difficulty fighting them.
“That becomes really problematic,” he said.
Tomich added that staffing levels are also playing a part.
“We don’t have the resources that we used to to handle these things like we used to,” he said, adding the Cape fire crews still have to respond to their regular duties, like house fire and emergency calls, while battling brush fires.
Crews from North Fort Myers, Tice, Bayshore and Estero are some who are assisting.
“We’re going to be in here for the next few days working on spot fires,” Tomich said.
Weston added that people will see smoke in the area in the next few days.