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What you need to know to protect your home from a forest fire

Posted at 8:19 PM, Feb 25, 2020
and last updated 2020-02-25 22:02:16-05

CHARLOTTE COUNTY, Fla. — Fire crews are continuing to monitor hot spots following a brush fire that broke out Monday just before noon.

It happened at the San of Placida neighborhood in Charlotte County.

More than 200 acres were affected by the fire, causing 40 families to evacuate.

Charlotte County Fire and EMS says this is a reminder of why people who live near wooded areas should always have an emergency kit ready to go.

The amount of time someone would have to evacuate depends on the speed of the fire.

Monday's brush fire spreading so quickly, families in its path had just minutes to get their belongings and get out.

"If we're talking forest fire, you're going to want to have all your important IDs, anything that can't be replaced or would be difficult to replace. That's the kind of stuff you want to think about being able to grab quick and get out," said Todd Dunn, public information officer for Charlotte County Fire and EMS.

U.S Forest Services has a checklist on what items you should take during a forest fire evacuation.

This includes, homeowner’s policy, auto policies, life and investment files, bank records, legal documents, and licenses.

Grabbing important documents is something Lucas Crow and his family did as they evacuated their home Monday.

"I came to the house, I got the dogs and phones, put them in the car, my wife got the passports, and she closed all the windows. Quick thinking because this place was embroiled in smoke," said Crow.

Crow says he and his family had about seven minutes to get out before the flames were reaching his yard.

Fortunately, none of the homes in danger caught fire.

Charlotte County Fire and EMS says there are steps people can take to protect their homes from forest fires.

One tip is cleaning out gutters, as well as clearing out brush.

"If ambers land on the roof, they're most likely not going to take hold on a shingle, but if they get into that gutter that is full of leaves and debris, the fire can take off and grow from there," said Dunn.

"Trim back the area around your house, give that fire a little break so it doesn't have the fuel right up to your home."

Florida Forest Service also suggests replacing highly flammable landscape material with plant materials having a higher water content.

To find a list of less-Flammable Trees and Shrubs, click here.