Mulch fire continues to burn in Lee County

Posted at 10:57 AM, Mar 21, 2017
and last updated 2017-03-21 14:26:47-04

BUCKINGHAM, Fla. -- A Lee County mulch fire is still going strong Tuesday morning, over 24 hours after it first started.

Tice Firefighters have been working since Monday to extinguish a large mulch fire along Tice Street at Staley Road in Buckingham.

Firemen tell Fox 4 the fire is contained to the area and they’ve kept it out of the surrounding brush, but they’ll be there all day Tuesday and possibly all week because of how high and thick the smoke is.

Fox 4 video from overnight shows widespread flames and the thick dark smoke rising into the air above the giant pile of mulch.

This all happened inside Country Lakes Farm, where crews say the fire likely sparked because the mulch generated too much heat.

What you'll see at night if you drive by the farm is a fiery glow that lights up the sky, filled with thick smoke so dark you can't see through it.

"We've had some smoke over the office, but it really hasn't been that bad. There’s been fire trucks in and out all day which is nice," says Tina Johnson, who works on a farm just across the street.

Her job sits east of the fire, but the winds have blown the smoke west, leaving it to fill the windshields of drivers on Interstate 75.

Firemen tell Fox 4 they'll be battling the blaze the next few days.

"I think it’s bad, and it stinks, and it’s not good for you to inhale it in,” says student Nikya Kinchen, who waits at a nearby school bus stop every day.

Tice and Bayshore fire departments are among those working to extinguish the remaining flames.  They say as long as the furry friends and properties of those living nearby aren't affected, this fire's no sweat.  “We're going to smell a little smoky for a few days. Other than that, it’s not a big deal for us."

The Lee County School District says students at Manatee Elementary and Oak Hammock Middle were kept inside Tuesday to protect them from the lingering smoke.  The district's air quality team is monitoring the air inside those schools.