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Fire officials call for vigilance after five car fires in five days in Lee County

Posted at 9:05 PM, May 11, 2021
and last updated 2021-05-11 21:05:03-04

LEHIGH ACRES — There have been five car fires in the past five days in Lee County, and some of those have sparked brush fires as well.

We spoke with the Lehigh Acres Fire District, which said most of those fires were preventable.

A neighbor provided us video of a car fire Tuesday morning on 50th St. SW in LeHigh Acres. Fire crews got to the scene and cut open the engine compartment, where the fire started.

"The primary cause of all of the car fires that we see is something to do with maintenance or electrical. So something in the engine compartment goes wrong," said Public Information Officer Katie Heck.

Heck said her department responded with a full brush fire unit, which meant the car and the grass around it were the only things that burned.

"We’ll send a fire engine, which would always go to a car fire, but now we’re sending a brush truck, and even a water tender depending on the location, because we want to stop it from spreading," said Heck.

That’s the response we saw at a car fire on Mellow Rd. in North Fort Myers, that burned nearly two acres on Monday, and at a fire on Pacific Ave. in North Fort Myers, that burned five acres last Friday. In that case, a running car simply ignited the grass below it, something Heck said is common in dry conditions.

"People pulling over to maybe talk on the phone or wait for a friend, or do something where they’re idling, and they do that in tall grass where the grass is touching the bottom of the engine. So when it touches that catalytic converter, you can see a grass fire start," said Heck.

Heck said dry conditions may continue for several weeks, so a little preparation could prevent a lot of damage.

"Just getting that preventative maintenance done on your vehicle. Routine oil changes, checking the engine compartment once in a while. It’s just a good thing, a responsible thing to do as a car owner," said Heck.