7,000 homes evacuated, 9 homes lost in Golden Gate Estates fire

GOLDEN GATE ESTATES, Fla. Nine homes were destroyed and mandatory evacuations of approximately 7,000 homes were in place Friday afternoon due to an ongoing brush fire.

Nearly 5,000 acres were scorched near Everglades Boulevard and 30th Avenue SE. That fire, which sparked Thursday afternoon was 10 percent contained as of Friday afternoon.

Greater Naples Fire Chief Kingman Schuldt described the area as “a war zone.”

A second brush fire, which also started Thursday, burned approximately 350 acres near Frangipani Avenue before it was fully contained Friday afternoon, fire officials said.

Those seeking further fire information can contact Collier County officials at 239-252-8444.

Below is the latest information as it comes into the WINK newsroom:

10:52 p.m.

8:19 p.m.

One person was injured in the Golden Gate Estates fire. The man suffered second degree burns and was trauma-alerted to the Lee County Trauma Unit, then transported to the burn unit in Tampa.

Fire officials give a press conference with the latest updates on the Golden Gate Estates fire:

7:04 p.m.

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has authorized federal funds to reimburse costs to Florida to fight the 30th Avenue SE wildfire.

The FEMA grant is reimbursing 75 percent of the eligible firefighting costs for managing, mitigating and controlling the fires. Eligible costs include labor, equipment and supplies used for fighting the fire and costs for emergency work such as evacuations and sheltering, police barricading and traffic control.

“FEMA approved these funds to make sure that Florida has the money to fight these fires and save lives, structures and property,” FEMA Regional Administrator Gracia Szczech said. “Our thoughts and prayers go out to those families who’ve been affected.”

6:02 p.m.

Florida Commissioner of Agriculture Adam H. Putnam urged Collier County residents to comply with evacuation orders related to the current wildfires in the area.

Officials have ordered approximately 7,000 homes to be evacuated.

“Wind conditions are rapidly spreading the fire, and flames are reaching heights of 100 feet with spot fires sparking half-a-mile ahead of the main fire,” Putnam said in a statement. “These are extremely dangerous conditions, and Florida Forest Service firefighters and partnering agencies are working tirelessly to contain this massive wildfire.”

Below is an updated evacuation map:

5:41 p.m.

Florida was approved for a federal grant to reimburse costs for fighting the Golden Gate Estates brush fires, Gov. Rick Scott said.

5:27 p.m.

Collier County declares state of emergency due to brush fires.

5:19 p.m.

New evacuation boundaries:

  • Golden Gate Boulevard to the north
  • I-75 to the south
  • Wilson Boulevard to the east
  • Collier Boulevard to the west

5:09 p.m.

Golden Gate Estates fire increases to 4,800 acres due to “extreme fire behavior.”

4:58 p.m.

The owner of Stahlman Landscaping told WINK News reporter Kim Powell that his business is on fire.

4:50 p.m.

A temporary burn ban has been issued for Matlacha and Pine Island until further notice due to extreme drought conditions.

4:30 p.m.

A mandatory evacuation zone has been expanded to Magnolia Pond Drive off North Collier Boulevard, which includes the Noah’s Landing Apartments.

A voluntary evacuation zone has been expanded for the southeast quadrant of Golden Gate, including Golden Gate Parkway to Tropicana Boulevard and south to 32nd Avenue SW.

4:15 p.m.

Collier deputies rescued a loose horse during the ongoing brush fire:

4:13 p.m.

Firefighters from beyond Southwest Florida are being called in to help with the fire:

3:46 p.m.

North Port has issued a burn ban until further notice due to extreme drought conditions and ongoing wildfire threats.

3:28 p.m.

The American Cancer Society’s Relay For Life of Golden Gate, which was supposed to take place Friday evening at Golden Gate High School, has been postponed due to the brush fire.

3:20 p.m.

WINK News reporter John-Carlos Estrada captured a house on fire near the intersection of 17th Street SW and Brantley Boulevard in Golden Gate Estates:

3:01 p.m.

The brush fire near Frangipani Avenue, which burned 350 acres, is 100 percent contained.

2:54 p.m.

Evacuees with pets can go to North Collier Regional Park on Livingston Road. Those without pets can go to Golden Gate Community Center on Golden Gate Parkway, the American Red Cross said.

2:41 p.m.

Here’s video from Immokalee Fire of a helicopter dropping water on the fire near 30th Street:

2 p.m.

Fire officials provide updates on the ongoing fires.

1:54 p.m.

The brush fire near 30th Avenue has increased to 3,100 acres and is 10% contained.

1:47 p.m.

Gov. Rick Scott deployed the Florida National Guard to help with fire response:

“Today, following a briefing with local fire officials, law enforcement, the Florida Forestry Service and local emergency management officials, I have directed the Florida National Guard to deploy additional resources to assist with evacuations, emergency management and firefighting in Collier County,” Scott said in a statement. “When I declared a state of emergency, one UH-60 was placed on standby. Following my direction today, four more will be deployed for total of five UH-60 Blackhawk helicopters which will be instrumental in firefighting efforts in Collier County. I have also directed the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) and Florida Highway Patrol (FHP) to assist with evacuations.”

12:53 p.m.

The south side of Golden Gate Boulevard South to Interstate 75 and Collier Boulevard East to Wilson Boulevard are also required to evacuate, Collier County Emergency Management said.

12:48 p.m.

The Golden Gate library will be closing at 1 p.m. due to the brush fires, Collier County Emergency Management said.

WINK News meteorologist said smoke from the Collier County brush fires are tracking towards the northwest and effecting the western portions of Collier County and south of Sanibel and Captiva.

12:24 p.m.

Students from Big Cypress Elementary School will be  moved to Oak Ridge Middle School for dismissal, Collier County schools said. Parents are asked to bring identification in order to pick up their children.

11:25 a.m.

Mandatory evacuations were issued in Golden Gate Estates, Collier County Emergency Management said.

Evacuations were ordered in the area from the north boundary at White Boulevard to the south boundary at Interstate 75. Also from the west at 39th Street Southwest to the East at Tobias Street.

The Golden Gate Community Center located at 4701 Golden Gate Parkway has been designated as a reception center for evacuees. The center will not be an overnight shelter at this time.

Collier County brush fires evacuation map

9:40 a.m.

Fort Myers issued a temporary burn ban on Friday, which exempts barbecues, that will remain in place until extreme drought conditions improve. The ban doesn’t apply to prescribed agriculture and ban burning authorized by the Florida Fire Service.

Collier County also issued a similar ban on Friday that will remain in place until May 12.

Reporter:Nicole Papageorge
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Olivia Mancino
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