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Collier County brush fires: 8,500-acre spread, 10% contained, evacuations in place

Thousands of acres have burned in Collier County after brush fires ignited and quickly spread Wednesday, damaging or destroying several homes and forcing multiple evacuations.

The two biggest fires merged and are currently at an 8,500-acre spread that was 10% contained as of 7:15 p.m. Thursday, per Florida Forest Service.

Fires are burning on the north and south sides of Alligator Alley, with embers from the north having sparked the fire to the south late Wednesday.

I-75 has reopened from mile marker 101 to mile marker 80 after being closed for about 20 hours.

Fire officials said several homes have been damaged or destroyed, with at least 13 structures confirmed as damaged.

Bradenton, Manatee County, and North Port fire crews have been sent to the scene to help battle the blaze, as have crews from the City of Miami and Miami-Dade County.


EVACUATIONS

Homes along 34th Avenue SW, 36th Avenue SE and 38th Avenue SE have been evacuated.

Evacuations were ordered early Thursday for areas south of I-75, including Panther Walk RV resort and Club Naples RV resort. Forest Glen is also included in current evacuations.

Mandatory evacuations are currently in place for the following locations:

  • Beck Blvd
  • LeBuff Rd.
  • Benfield Rd.
  • Newman Dr.
  • Loblolly Bay Dr.
  • Stable Way
  • South of the landfill to the east of the landfill
  • Sunrise Blvd.
  • Jay Lane and Eagle
  • Keane Ave.
  • Periwinkle Way
  • Jungle Plum Dr. East and West
  • Bishopwood Court East and West

There is a voluntary evacuation order for the following areas:

  • 39th Street SW and side streets to include 11th Avenue SW through 31st Avenue SW
  • 18th Avenue SE to 40th Ave SE off of Everglades Boulevard South

There are two fires burning south of Keane Ave. and there is a voluntary evacuation order for all streets south of Keane.

There is a reunification center and shelter open at Golden Gate Community Center, 4701 Golden Gate Pkwy.

A primary citizen contact and reunification center has been established at Max Hasse Park, 3390 Golden Gate Blvd. W. Meals and water are available at that location.

A citizen contact center has also been set up for affected residents at 40th Avenue SE and Everglades Blvd. Residents can access this area from I-75 at the Everglades Blvd. overpass.

The Collier County Fairgrounds said it is opening up its parking lots for people who need a place for trailers and other vehicles.

Anyone wishing to donate food and drinks for firefighters may drop items off at Max Hasse Park, 3390 Golden Gate Blvd. W. Items that would be helpful include bottled water, Gatorade or other drinks containing electrolytes; easy-to-eat fruit such as apples, bananas and oranges; and individual serving packets of items including nuts, protein bars and granola.


HIGH FIRE DANGER AREAS

According to Greater Naples Fire Rescue District, 951 to Santa Barbara, Miller Rd to Goshen St, Woodland Grade Rd to Tobias St has the potential to become an evacuation area.


Governor DeSantis briefed on damage

Gov. DeSantis was given a briefing and a tour of some of the damage from the fire Thursday afternoon.

He said he saw the fires as he was flying to Naples from Miami earlier Thursday. Then he drove around for 20 minutes to get a closer look.

There is still a lot of smoke and many trees burnt to a crisp.

DeSantis says it’s important for everyone to take these evacuation notices seriously. He says he has state and federal resources engaged and ready to help.

We asked how evacuees are supposed to go to shelters amid the coronavirus. He says there’s room for creativity. Hotels that are empty right now can take some of the families in.

Trust WINK News to continue to update this story as details are confirmed.

Reporter:Justin Kase
Taylor Smith
Anika Henanger
Andryanna Sheppard
Morgan Rynor
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