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BURNIN' UP: Conditions heat up for potential burn ban in Lee County

With the current conditions, Lee County says we could be just days away from a burn ban.
burnban
Posted at 5:27 PM, Jun 04, 2024

LEHIGH ACRES, Fla. — There's a new urgency for people to be aware of the threat for brush fires.

Hot temperatures, wind and little to no rain create the perfect condition for a fire to spread.

Lee County says we could be just days away from a burn ban.

If and when it takes place, the ban means no campfires, bonfires and trash fires. Don't worry, summer cookouts on the grill are fine, but it’s important to be mindful of dry conditions.

"In case of one, call 9-1-1 and let them know," a Lehigh Acres woman tells Fox 4.

The other day when a brush fire broke out on her street, she called in the emergency.

She says, "It was scary because you don't know if it's going to go somewhere else or toward you."

It was so close, she smelled the smoke inside her home, and saw the flames when she went outside.

Days later, there's a lingering smell of smoke.

When Lee County's drought index hits 600, county commissioners say a burn ban will go in effect.

At the time of this report, we're only seven points away at 593.

Lehigh Acres Fire and Rescue says we're closer to that number than you might think.

"The drought index can actually vary three to four points each day. The next two to three days without any rain, we'll be at that point," Lehigh Acres Fire and Rescue Public Information Officer Katie Heck says.

Fire spreads fast in the area because so many people live near brush and dense woods.

Heck says, "Those little outdoor fires are spreading quickly and getting very out of control very fast, and it's happening pretty frequently."

She says they see at least one outdoor fire a day become out of control because of ripe conditions.

“We’re already in a situation where the fires are dangerous. Those seven points don’t really make a difference in how dangerous those outdoor fires are right now,” she adds.

It can happen in the blink of an eye.

"It was just burning real fast. It almost burned the other side with the houses," the Lehigh woman says.

She says you can see the difference from one side of the street to the other—-burnt, charred palm trees and green, lively vegetation.

LAFR says to be careful because embers can travel over a mile.