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Rain brings hope to brush fire area in Collier County

Posted at 8:46 PM, May 15, 2020
and last updated 2020-05-15 20:46:39-04

COLLIER COUNTY, FL. — It's day three since the catastrophic flames of the massive 36th Ave SE brush fire raced through neighborhoods in the Golden Gate Estates area, giving some people just minutes to evacuate.

"I don't think it was even fives minutes because the flames approached so quickly and started to burn so quickly that we had to leave so fast, I didn't have time for anything," said Gold Gate Estates resident, Irasema Hernandez.

Hernandez's family ran a small mechanic business on their property.

The small shop and about five cars got destroyed by the high-intensity flames.

Sadly, the family also lost a chicken coop.

"I haven't slept for the past two nights, just sitting but the window with fear that the fire would spark back up," said Hernandez.

Fire experts say the severe drought in Southwest Florida and the strong winds are to blame for the fires quick expansion.

But Friday's rain and moisture in the air should help control the brush fire.

"Those conditions together are helping the firefighters try to get ahead of the fire today because they've been kind of chasing it for the past two days," said Brian Camposano, the Florida Forest Service Green Team Division.

Camposano is the fire behavior analyst for the 36th Avenue SE fire.

While this rain is helpful, Camposano says we need about 6 to 9 inches of it.

"We really need good duration rain and a couple of inches over the course of several hours — then the fuels actually start to absorb some of the moisture before it either evaporates or is lost into the soil," said Camposano.

Camposano says he expects to see flames flare up again once conditions dry-up but not the way we saw flames Wednesday.

"I expect there's going to be some pockets of fuel in there that when the rain stops and the sun comes back out, those pockets of fuel might kick back up," said Camposano.

For now, Hernandez says she just happy to have a home still and is breathing a sigh of relief to see the rain come down.

"I kept hoping it would rain from the moment the fire started, I kept praying for it to happen," said Hernandez.