LEHIGH ACRES, Fla. -- Lee County Sheriff's Office deputies announced voluntary evacuations over speaker phones during the Lehigh Acres fires on Sunday. However, dozens of residents instead flocked to the fires with their cell phones facing the flames hoping to capture the scenes on camera.
“It wasn’t as smooth as we anticipated or had hoped for,” said Florida Forest Service Mitigation Specialist Samantha Quinn.
Quinn said evacuations, whether mandatory or voluntary, are put in place for a reason.
“It’s for your safety. So we want safety first not only for the resident but for the first responder so that’s our priority if there’s an evacuation we encourage you to evacuate the home,” said Quinn.
They can't force you to leave, but said moving forward in the cleanup efforts it's important to think twice before risking your safety for a viral video.
“We don’t want people getting hurt or damaged so by taking that aspect out of it allows them to focus on the fire and they’re able to quickly contain that and not have to worry about a person in their structure,“ said Quinn.
Officials report 7 homes were damaged during the fires that totaled more than 400 acres. Crews were able to save 115 homes. No injures were reported.
Quinn recommends families prepare a ready, set, go plan to expedite the process should you evacuate. The plan recommends securing important documents and prescription medications.
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