LEE COUNTY, Fla. - Firefighters say a brush fire that threatened a half-dozen homes in Lehigh Acres Sunday most likely started with fireworks.
Crews responded to a neighborhood off 5th Street East around 3 p.m., but say after interviewing several neighbors, it was clear New Year's Eve festivities probably sparked the blaze.
"Neighbors say there were a lot of fireworks. There was just a little show out here in itself, they were shooting them off," says Lehigh Acres Assistant Fire Chief Ken Bennett. "Most likely it was something that possibly sat and smoldered."
The fire was contained within in a hour, but blackened about 2 acres of vacant property and devastated a tool shed as it burned.
While crisis was largely averted, some neighbors are still upset, saying carelessness could have devastated the block.
"People setting off fireworks this time of year, it's stupid because it is so dry. It's pathetic," says Roger Wright, who was one of the first to spot the flames and dial 911.
Bennett says the fire is a reminder to be safe and legal when using fireworks.
According to Florida law, fireworks are only for select purposes, like frightening birds away from farms, signaling, and blasting. In fact, most shops and roadside stands make customers sign waivers, promising they will use the fireworks legally.
"They should be able to read [the waiver]," says Bennett. "A lot of people are in a hurry to purchase their fireworks and sign on the dotted line and leave."