CHARLOTTE COUNTY, Fla. - Firefighters from several agencies were expected to remain on the scene of a smoldering mulch fire overnight Tuesday and into Wednesday.
The fire was first reported around 1:30 Tuesday afternoon off Gasparilla Road near the Gulf Cove community.
"This is an area where they burn debris. There's an incinerator, but there's also a very large pit that is filled with a lot of fuel to burn," said Dee Hawkins of Charlotte Fire & EMS.
Old trees and branches were among the debris smoldering, smoking, and in some cases, flaring up. Unlike a typical brush fire, this fuel isn't spread out, but piled high.
"Easily two, three stories. In some places four," said Patrick Mahoney of the Division of Forestry.
Heavy equipment moved mounds of smoldering mulch, hoping to spread the reach of the fire truck's hoses.
"Lets us know how hot this thing is getting and has gotten, that its burned literally everything to ash in this area," Mahoney said.
It too early to say how this fire started, but its a prime example of the danger at this time of the year.
"It is brush season and we are very dry so the slightest little ember that flies across can cause a fire," Hawkins said.
No homes were in any immediate danger from the fire, but it was unknown how long the blaze might continue burning. Even with numerous agencies sending multiple streams of water on this fire, there are plentiful piles of fuel to keep it going.
Fire officials are asking for the public's patience.
"Not something we can put out immediately. Literally, it could be weeks of this thing smoldering before we can get everything turned over," Mahoney said.
Smoke could combine with fog overnight, making it difficult for people with breathing problems. Those with respiratory problems are advised to avoid prolonged outdoor activity in the region of the fire.