Crews still putting out hundreds of hot spots from Collier wildfire

Posted at 6:26 PM, Apr 25, 2017
and last updated 2017-04-25 20:19:49-04

COLLIER COUNTY, Fla. - The Florida Forest Service reports that fire crews are still putting out hundreds of hot spots all throughout the eleven square miles that the 30th Avenue Wildfire tore through late last week.

Thousands of residents in Golden Gate Estates were ordered to evacuate Friday, and several homes were consumed by the fire.

Tuesday, fire crews were pouring thousands of gallons of water on a compost pile at a nursery on Inez Road. Firefighters saved the nursery, but all the fuel in the pile makes for a slow burn.

"With the way it's compacted, it burns so deep," said Jason Longfellow, a division supervisor with the Florida Forest Service. "We'll never get it out with just one swoop. We'll have to come back."

Just down the road from the nursery, a home destroyed by the wildfire is a reminder of why it's so important for crews to keep putting out hot spots.

"It's a high fire danger just about everywhere in the state," said Melanie Banton, a spokeswoman with Florida Forest Service. "A lot of the different counties are even putting out burn bans."

Collier County is one of them. County commissioners also officially declared a local state of emergency Tuesday, which means the county can tap into an emergency fund to help pay for recovery efforts.

While the wildfire burned up the dry brush on the forest floor, the flames didn't reach many of the leaves and needles at the treetops. But that could be kindling for a new fire.

"Those leaves and needles are gong to start falling, and that is going to present a future fire danger," Banton said. "It's going to provide more fuel for the fire to start again if there's any more hot spots. So that's something we need to keep continuing to look for."

Banton cautions everyone to e extremely cautious with anything that could spark another fire, such as a cigarette butt or the hot engine of any vehicle.

"Be aware of your fire use because it is very dry," she said. "Any small spark can cause this (recent wildfire.)"

The local state of emergency declared by Collier commissioners comes two weeks after Governor Rick Scott declared a statewide state of emergency due to previous wildfires throughout the state, including Southwest Florida.