Shutters still up after Irma could pose fire hazard

CAPE CORAL, Fla. Hurricane Irma is long gone, but many residents are still living in a potentially dangerous situation.

Many of the shutters that protected homes from hurricane force winds are still visible across Southwest Florida, creating a fire hazard.

The Cape Coral Fire Department says shutters make it harder for crews to put out flames sparked by hazards like holiday lights and could put lives at risk.

“There’s extra fire hazards in the home around the holidays,” said Andrea Schuch, Cape Coral Fire Department.”Last year we had a Christmas tree fire. That can happen pretty easily, particularly if Christmas trees are not watered.”

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For some residents like 78-year-old Rufino Lopez, taking down his shutters isn’t that simple.

“I’m not as young as I used to be. I’m taking time. It’s not just the shutters, there’s so many other things to do,” Lopez said. “I’ve been waiting for at least one of my grandsons to come over and help.”

While the fire department recognizes residents are busy during this time of year, they urge them to think of their safety.

“We do recommend that everyone take their hurricane shutters down and store them in their garages,” Schuch said.