Teen could be fined for accidental fire in Lehigh Acres

Fire danger is on the rise in Lee County. It only took one match for brush to catch fire in a local neighborhood. Officials said it was an illegal fire that burned dangerously close to a house.

A 17-year-old boy could be fined for a fire off Westdale Avenue on the northern end of Lehigh Acres that started Thursday.

“I guess he just decided to play with fire to help clear the lot or whatever,” Torrence Bannister said. “And, I guess it kind of got out of control because of the wind, and it was dry, so it got out of hand, and it turned into all that.”

Charred branches and piles of ashes sit 10 feet away from Bannister’s home. This came hours after his teenage cousin lost control of a fire.

Bannister said he was sitting inside his house playing video games when his cousin yelled for him to call 911. He said he didn’t think the fire would cause as much damage as it did.

“I didn’t think it was that serious,” Bannister said. “But, when I came, I was like, ‘Whoa, we gotta do something.’”

Firefighters said the wind took a match and kicked up flames, burning through an acre of vegetation.

The Florida forestry fire danger index puts Lee County in a moderate zone for fire hazard.

“Currently, right now, our dry index in Lee County is around 440,” Fire Marshall Ken Bennett said. “So we are moving in to the dry season. People need to be very careful when they burn outside.”

Florida law only allows people to burn yard debris 50 feet away from the road and 25 feet away from the woods and your own house.

Bennett said, if you aren’t careful, it will cost you.

“They’ll probably get suppression costs from the state and possibly the fire district,” Bennett said. “A lot of folks just don’t realize how quickly the fire can spread and take off on them, and that’s what happened today.”

Reporter:Kelsey Kushner
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