CHARLOTTE COUNTY, Fla. - Smoke filled the sky Wednesday afternoon as several brush fires burned in Charlotte County. One, near Chamberlain Blvd in North Port, was just shy of 5 acres. Only a trailer and dump truck were damaged, but officials worry this one was no accident.
"Basically, we have somebody who probably came by and set a fire this afternoon, and with the wind conditions,
everything the way they are, and as dry as we are, we are in the middle of getting into our critical fire season," Forest
Ranger Steve Wilson said.
Luckily, no homes were directly in harm's way, but it was a different story farther south in Port Charlotte,
where firefighters battled another fire too close for comfort for neighbors on Chevy Chase St. NW.
"Originally, I came over with a bucket full of water, threw it, and there was sparkage," neighbor Anthony Harla said. "Maybe 10
minutes after I was here, the fire department showed up, but I was just trying to help my neighbor keep his house safe."
It was a team effort as he and others did their best to keep the flames at bay. "I was out there with the fire hose,"
neighbor Michael Kozlowski said. "I was spraying myself because the heat is so amazing. It was 20 feet away from and me
and 11 feet tall, and the heat of it pushed me all the way back to my house."
Charlotte County Fire/EMS flew it's helicopter, and dropped water from its bambi bucket 19 times, helping control
the fire. But around 7, this palm tree flared up, just feet from a home. A firefighter quickly doused the flames,
with the help of the homeowner. And as the orange glow faded, Michael Kozlowski breathed a sigh of relief, using this
as a lesson for his young son who dreams of being a firefighter.
"I definitely walked through him and told him, this is why you don't touch hot stuff and this is why it can spread very
quickly," Kozlowski said.
Right now, the focus is on dousing hot spots and clearing the heavy accumulation of brush threatening nearby homes.
While inside, responders actually encountered an eagle's nest. They'll have to be careful not to disturb that tree as
they continue working.