One Collier County man knows the risk of living in the forest in an especially busy wildfire season. Mark Irgang has lived on his property in the Picayune Strand State Forest for three decades, but Saturday his trailer home on Sabal Palm Road was destroyed by a wildfire.
"I lost everything that I have," Irgang said.
When he came home from the gym on Saturday, Irgang - who said he survived the Holocaust as a child in the 1940s - found the trailer he had just purchased a month before had burned to the ground.
"I was heart-broken, to be honest with you," Irgang said. "But I'm a pretty tough guy. I'm resilient, being a Holocaust survivor and spending five years in a displaced person's refugee camp."
The fire also demolished another trailer he had lived in before getting his new one. But that wasn't the toughest blow.
"Then came the barn where all my memorabilia was, of my kids and my history," Irgang said.
Now, the trailers and barn are unrecognizable. The structures were very close to the woods when the wildfire tore through, and stood little chance of avoiding the flames. Besides his pickup truck and a few clothes, the fire has left Irgang with little else.
"Except my spirit and my soul, and all my wonderful friends who have come forward, expressing their regret that this has happened to me," he said.
Irgang said he hopes to rebuild at the property at some point. He's currently staying at a hotel, thanks to help from the Red Cross and Jewish Family Services.