Wildfire forces evacuations in Florida community, some structures burned

Image via Immokalee FD

Image via Immokalee FD

Collier County also issued a similar ban on Friday that will remain in place until May 12.

Fire officials said they believe the area could be in for another long fire season.

In southwest Florida, a wildfire destroyed nine homes and charred about 4,800 acres (1,942 hectares) in Collier County, said Clark Ryals, a senior forester for the Florida Forest Service.

Collier County Sheriff Kevin Rambosk said he saw propane tanks exploding and buildings burning where the fire affected a nursery, chemical warehouse and sod company.

The fire had burned about 600 acres and destroyed several structures by Friday night.

- Another brush fire has broken out in the Indian Lake Estates area of Polk County, and residents are once again being asked to evacuate.

In Polk County, evacuations were lifted Saturday afternoon for residents of Indian Lake Estates, an unincorporated community southeast of Lake Wales, after crews prevented the 700-acre fire from reaching any houses.

Local officials didn't have an estimate of the fire's containment Friday and said it was too early to tell whether any homes have been lost to the fire.

Officials confirmed that residents in 7,000 homes have been ordered to evacuate, although some people have chosen not to leave. The Florida Forestry Arson Alert Association is offering up to a $5,000 reward for information leading to an arrest, Polk County Fire Rescue said. "That's the main thing that needs to happen right now".

Officials on Saturday didn't offer a reason for how the fire started, saying the cause of the blaze is under investigation.

"If someone is setting these fires, we will find out who they are, and we will put them in jail".

Florida Forest Service Deputy Chief John kern said they are planned for shifting weather patterns heading into the week. "That's a promise", Judd says.

The area is no stranger to threatening wildfires.

Officials said one brush fire has grown to almost 5,000 acres and as of Friday evening was only 10 percent contained.

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