FORT MYERS, Fla. — Two Southwest Florida counties approved taking emergency action as drought conditions persist, leading to an increased risk of fire danger.
Commissioners unanimously approved a burn ban Tuesday morning in Charlotte County. It will remain in effect until further notice.
County fire chief Jason Fair wrote to the board expressing his own concern for fire danger, saying that Charlotte County is among the three driest counties in the state.
Last week, a large fire sparked at the Emerald Pointe Condominiums, destroying eight units. Fair says that continued dry and windy conditions could lead to fires igniting with little effort that would burn more intensely and spread quickly.
Only one person opposed the Charlotte County ban during public comment, saying doing so "takes away people's rights."
In response, Commissioner Bill Truex said it was the "first time I've witnessed someone talking negatively about protecting the community."
At their own meeting Tuesday, Lee County commissioners swiftly approved declaring a local state of emergency because of the dry weather. That action includes a 30-day burn ban.
The county’s ordinance bans “outdoor burning ignition sources,” including campfires, bonfires, and trash burning. Grilling food and backyard fire rings are not included, but officials advise exercising additional caution.
The Lee County Fire Chiefs Association, which includes more than 25 leaders of area fire agencies, wrote commissioners a letter asking for the ban.
The letter says it does not look like the risk for catastrophic fires will go down anytime soon.