Collier wildfire burns through the night
NAPLES, Fla. Firefighters expect to spend the night battling a wildfire near Picayune Strand State Forest.
Four spot fires were quickly suppressed Monday evening after they crossed Collier Boulevard, which remained closed Monday night from Davis Boulevard to Rattlesnake Hammock Road.
“No timetable at this time on Collier Blvd/951 reopening,” Collier County Emergency Management said in a tweet. “Crews still working small fires on each side of 951 near Naples Lake. No evacuations.”
Officials described the blaze, which grew to 3,500 acres and was 30 percent contained as of 10 p.m. Monday, as having “intense fire behavior.”
Flames spread to near the Naples Lake Country Club, where Ed Bayes was visiting his brother.
“It’s Florida, you don’t think of this as Florida,” he said.
The cause of the fire was not immediately known.
County officials opened an emergency hotline to answer questions regarding the wildfire: (239) 252-8444. Collier County residents can dial 311 to access the hotline, which officials said will be open until further notice.
The smoke resulted in the National Weather Service issuing a dense smoke advisory until 9 a.m. Tuesday.
Flames were visible through the night as firefighters, who came from as far away as Sarasota and Charlotte counties, battled the growing wildfire:
Smoke was visible throughout Naples earlier in the day, including on I-75 near the entrance to Alligator Alley:
No official evacuation notices were issued Monday, but firefighters removed about a dozen people along Beck Boulevard. The Aventine at Naples Apartments were under voluntary evacuations.
Residents at Panthers Walk RV Resort were ready to relocate if needed.
“Clothes, medications, important papers, that’s it,” said resident Carolyn Fuchs. “There’s people pulling out already in their motor homes.”
Mike Cumaltoe, who lives near the blaze and has horses on his property, said he was also ready to mobilize.
“It’s not too close yet but if it is, I’ve got some troops lined up, trailers, and we’re going to move those horses out,” he said. “I think this one’s the closest one yet. I don’t like it, it’s big.”
Officials advised caution for those travelling in the area:
Use extreme caution if driving in areas near wildfire such as 951, there are numerous emergency resources arriving and working in the area.
— Collier County EM (@CollierEM) March 6, 2017
Monday’s wildfire comes as crews spent Sunday and Monday dealing with two brush fires in Lehigh Acres.