Some families lose homes, others damaged in Golden Gate Estates fire

Published: May 24, 2021 11:37 PM EDT
Updated: May 24, 2021 11:53 PM EDT

Four homes in Golden Gate Estates are either destroyed or damaged due to the fire that began over the weekend, and the families who live in them have been left to figure out what’s next.

Firefighters had been working for days Monday to protect homes from flames in Golden Gate Estates.

Firefighters say people need to make sure they have defensible space so fire crews can get in fast and protect people’s homes.

Unfortunately, with the weekend’s windy weather, flames moved quickly, and some homes were destroyed.

“We’re both waiting to break down,” Connie Brock said. “Just let it go, but we can’t.”

Now that a fire left their home in shambles, Trish Morris and Connie Brock are sorting through the charred rubble and trying to save what’s left.

“I told Trisha, ‘Pack the animals up; grab your bag; and lets go,’” Brock explained.

Others in Golden Gate Estates such as Cathy Graves, didn’t know what they would return to when flames forced them out of their homes.

“Yeah, I didn’t know because, when I left here, that was on fire, that was on fire,” Graves said. “The cop said, ‘Get your dogs in the car and go.’ And I wanted to say, ‘What about my chickens?’”

Graves lost three boats and her trailer, but her chickens and home were saved from the fire’s destruction thanks to the lines firefighters dug out around many houses.

“It’s basically like a road,” said Battalion Chief Corey Nelson with Greater Naples Fire District. “It cuts away everything that can burn. It cuts the brush down, the grass down, everything down to regular sand.”

Nelson says you can increase the chance of your home surviving a wild fire by keeping up with the landscape around your home, tasks such as cleaning gutters.

“Get all the brush away from your house,” Nelson said.

That helps to stop and slow flames from spreading.

Monday, a sign put out by one family thanked firefighter, as those who lost precious belongings did what they could to stay strong.

“We’ll get through this,” said. “It’s going to be tough, but it’s going to be a long road.”

Firefighters recommend keeping firewood piles at least 30 feet away from buildings, keeping lawns mowed and hydrated and making sure firefighters can move around on your property.

The fire in Golden Gate Estates remains at 900 acres with 75 percent containment.