Three Lehigh Acres brush fires reported over the past week have prompted Fire Marshal Ken Bennett today to offer advice on how to burn outside when things are dry.
He said the fire department responded to a brush fire in the area of Silver Panther Lane and Tina Lane (south of SR 82). This fire call came in to the fire District on Thursday, January 10 at 8:32 p.m.
Unit personnel noted that the fire started when the resident attempted to burn some trees and other yard waste on his property. He said that an ember started the adjacent vegetation on fire, Bennett said.
Florida Forestry and several Lehigh Acres units brought the fire under control at 40 acres, he said.
On Sunday, January 13, at 12:14 p.m., fire personnel responded to a reported brush fire in the area of Carolyn Lane and Wildcat Drive. This fire escaped from a campfire that had been left unattended and burned approximately one acre, Bennett said.
Another brush fire was reported Sunday, January 13 at 2:32 p.m.
"This fire was located in the area of Tina Lane and Wildcat Drive. First arriving units on scene quickly contained the three- acre fire in heavy brush but needed assistance from Florida Forestry. The fire had taken approximately four hours to fully contain and extinguish the perimeter and hot spots," Bennett said.
He called the fire suspicious and said it is being investigation to determine the cause.
Bennett said also on Sunday (January 13) just before 6 p.m., the fire District responded to a small brush fire in the 600 block of East 12th Street. This fire also remains under investigation, he said.
"Although we have had some rain recently, the rain has not been adequate to keep our drought index from rising. Florida Forestry noted in its Sunday fax that the drought index for Lee County is 532. The brush fires that we experienced this weekend have proven that conditions are becoming favorable for fires to start igniting surrounding vegetation by embers from recreational fires or carelessly discarded lit materials," Bennett said.
He urged Lehigh Acres residents to make sure that they have taken the proper precautions before they start their recreational fires. Florida Forestry and the Lehigh Acres Fire Control and Rescue District may assess fees for suppression costs where adequate provisions are not in place or from careless burning.
The following, Bennett said, is a good yardstick in how to handle outside recreational fires:
Required setbacks for yard waste burning:
- 25 feet from forests
- 50 feet from paved public roads
- 25 feet from your house
- 150 feet from other occupied buildings
Other requirements include:
- Must have an adequate water supply (hose) to reach all areas around the fire
- Must be constantly attended at all times by a competent person
- Cannot burn household garbage
- Should not burn on days with strong winds
- Cannot burn on days that have been noted as "Red Flag" condition. Watch local television stations in the morning of the burn to find out if these conditions exist.
Any questions about burning regulations or to report any information about the fires under investigation, call Florida Forestry at 239-690-3500 or the Lehigh Acres Fire Control and Rescue District at 239-303-5300.
Bennett said that Florida Forestry has two links that may be helpful, before starting a recreational fire. This link can provide more information about the current burning regulations in place. floridaforestservice.com/wildfire/laws_trash_burning.html.
This link can provide information about current weather and drought conditions. floridaforestservice.com/fire_weather/current_conditions.html.