Fires continue near Naples, but roads are open and evacuations are lifted

Posted at 7:04 AM, Mar 09, 2017
and last updated 2017-03-09 10:25:36-05

COLLIER COUNTY, Fla. – The Florida Forest Service is continuing to work hard Thursday to fully contain the fire in Picayune Strand near Naples.

Right now, the actual cause is unknown.  However officials do believe it is human caused -- either accidentally or intentionally.

The fire has now consumed 7,500 acres and it's now 50% contained.  It has destroyed three homes and several other buildings.

More than a hundred firefighters from Southwest Florida and beyond have worked together to contain the flames.  21 bulldozers, two helicopters, and three swamp buggies have been put into action, removing vegetation leaving only dirt behind to stop the fire in its tracks.

The forest service says winds have continued to die down allowing firefighters an opportunity to concentrate on containment and improving lines.  Firefighters worked throughout the night Wednesday to minimize smoke on the road and mitigate any potential road closures.   

Thursday's plans include proactively monitoring areas around structures located in and around the wildfire while working to increase containment.

MORE: First responders well taken care of with donations

Interstate 75 is now fully back open to drivers after smoke from the Collier County wildfire forced Florida highway patrol to close a 25 mile stretch of I-75 for over 24 hours beginning Tuesday afternoon.

However, troopers warn the road could close again if smoke in the area becomes too thick.

The fire has been affecting hundreds of people in this area of Collier County just east of Collier Boulevard, which is also back open after being closed for an extend period of time due to smoke.

All mandatory evacuations have been lifted.