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Grass fire threatens five homes before being extinguished

April 14, 2012
Lehigh Acres Citizen

Lehigh Acres firefighters responded to a 1.5 acre grass fire Thursday afternoon at 5:30 p.m. The only property damage noted at the time of the investigation was to a couple of well pipes from flame damage, according to Assistant Chief and Fire Marshal Ken Bennett. He said the fire burned mainly between Armour Rd. and Fairway Drive, but did spot into three other blocks.

Five homes were threatened by this fire, but no injuries were reported.

Bennett said the fire was caused as a result of a resident on Armour Rd. who was attempting to ignite a barbecue grill with a piece of paper.

The piece of paper was blown out of the grill and into the grass of the yard and quickly spread onto the vacant lots next door, Bennett said.

Lehigh Acres Fire District responded all five stations to gain control of the fire and completed extinguishment and mop-up operations around 7 p.m.

Due to the current dry conditions, Bennett said residents should use caution with any outside fire, including barbecue grills, recreational fires, sparklers, and cigarettes.

"Make sure that a water hose is available and charged before lighting the barbecue grill; discourage fire works of any kind; and make sure that cigarettes are out in a non-combustible container instead of discarding," Bennett said.

There currently is not a burn ban in Lehigh Acres.

"However, I would like to caution the public to make sure that the conditions to burn are favorable before trying to have a yard waste burn or recreational fire. Monitor local weather and if low humidity's and/or high winds are expected, these type of fires should be postponed until conditions are favorable or allow. Days that have been labeled as "Red Flag" conditions will not permit any recreational or yard waste fires unless a valid permit has been issued," Bennett said.

As with all recreational and yard waste fires, someone that is competent to take appropriate action must attend to the fire at all times until it has been extinguished. Don't expect a fire to be out just because it doesn't produce any smoke, he said. A fire that has burned in a recreational or yard waste container or pit can still carry enough heat to reignite later when winds pick up.

"Make sure that these fires are completely extinguished with water before leaving them alone," Bennett said.

A fire that escapes your control can cost the person who is responsible for any property damages, as well as receive charges for equipment and personnel who were assigned to the incident to help extinguish, Bennett said.

If residents and property owners want to know if conditions are favorable to burn, contact the local fire stations and ask before starting the fire. In Lehigh Acres, the fire district can be contacted Monday through Friday at 239-303-5300.

On another note, the Lehigh Acres Fire District has had some suspicious fires in the area among the Golfview Blvd. neighborhood.

"As there have been several fires to strike this community in the last two to three weeks, a third of the fires appeared to have been accidental in causes. The other fires remain under investigation," Bennett said.

If anyone has seen or has any information to how these fires may have started, they are asked to contact the Lehigh Acres Fire Control District at the above number.



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