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MW Horticulture debris pile continues to burn as deadline approaches

Posted at 11:19 PM, Jul 05, 2019
and last updated 2019-07-05 23:19:55-04

NORTH FORT MYERS, Fla. — Every night, Paul Jones walks his backyard to make sure the slow-burning pile of debris doesn't put his house in danger, and he's over how long it's been going on.

"It has been burning and smoking for two and a half years," Jones said. "Look at my yard. This is my yard since 2017, they promised to clean up my yard and put the fence back."

Jones's backyard is one of several properties that line up to MW Horticulture's dumping site for Hurricane Irma debris. Lee County gave the company a 30-day extension last month to finish clearing out the debris by July 6 and could face a $200 per day fine.

Owner Denise Houghtaling says the county's punishment could slow the process.

"Them fining us $6000 it's not going to speed the process up that means I have one or two less employees to work the pile," Houghtaling said.

Neighbors criticize the county for pushing back the deadline in the first place, Jones claiming his health has paid the price.

"Where is that right to keep giving extensions and they don't move nothing out of here, they're just getting extensions to let it rot and keep making us sicker?"

Another neighbor worries she could be in for a health crisis, something she claims the MW Horticulture owner doesn't have to worry about.

"All I need is to have cancer activated by having to smell this acid. She can go home in the evening, I gotta smell this 24/7," Joyce Damron said.

Lee County said in an email the County Code Enforcement visited the site today are renewing their request to impose the $200 daily fine.