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WATCH as a 75-acre brush fire comes up to North Port neighbor's back doors

WATCH as a 75-acre brush fire comes up to North Port neighbor's back doors
Posted at 5:49 PM, Jun 02, 2024

NORTH PORT, Fla. — A brush fire that scorched 75 acres of land made quite the scare for homeowners off Sultan Avenue in North Port Saturday evening. Firefighters spent Sunday mopping the area making sure flames don't reignite and neighbors are now left cleaning up after the fire came up to their back doors.

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“We've always seen them on the news and everything but I've never experienced one this close to home," said Estelene Hand, who lives off Sultan Avenue.

Sounds of sirens in the rural neighborhood had neighbors running out of their homes to see for themselves as 40-foot flames blazed around them.

“Three cop cars came barreling down the road with their sirens going, speakers going, 'Clear the road, clear the road,’ one jumps out of the car and says ‘You need to get out of here. Get your dogs, go. You've got 10 minutes before it gets to your house,' so it was kind of like a chaotic situation," describes Hand.

Hand has lived at her home off Sultan Avenue in North Port for 7 years and says this eventful Saturday night is one she won’t forget as embers from the fire lit up her yard.

“We didn't have time to grab any family photo books or anything so I was just praying to God it would all survive," said Hand.

Hand and many of her neighbors were kept out of their homes while crews took out the fire, and many told me they found out through social media or from the large cloud of smoke that shut down I-75 for over an hour.

“This is one of the worst fires we've had, especially in recent years," said Scott Lane, Deputy Chief of Operations for North Port Fire Rescue.

Lane says because of the dry and windy conditions in the area, it made it all the more challenging to handle.

“We're one of the driest counties in the state right now," said Lane. "The City of North Port did institute a burn ban a couple of weeks ago for the reason being the drought and the conditions right now. Easy as a spark from a cigarette, a spark from a catalytic converter, is what can cause a fire."

Lane says the investigation to determine the cause is still underway but they have determined it started on Lown Street.

"From the embers coming down on our lanai screen. The top screens are all burnt, but other than that, we were very lucky, very blessed," said Hand.

Lane notes it's a reminder to residents to keep their brush contained and keep their yards watered during brush fire season.

He also says only two homes have reported minor damage from the fire.