USA – COLLIER COUNTY, Fla. – Several brush fires began burning in Golden Gate Estates Wednesday, eventually combining to form one large fire now spanning 8,663 acres.
As of Monday, May 18, the 36th Ave SE fire is 60 percent contained. Fire officials have continued working to contain the fire over the weekend and into the new week.
There are 149 firefighters and other personnel assigned to this fire, according to Florida Forest Service.
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Fire officials confirmed on Monday 12 homes have been destroyed in the fire, as well as 33 outbuildings.
The FFS said that as crews continue to work on the fire, residents could see “reburn,” which happens when trees shed needles and leaves that could land in hot spots and cause a flare-up.
“Any reburn that occurs should pose minimal risk to containment but could create an increase in smoke in some areas,” FFS said in an email.
Friday evening, the Collier County Sheriff’s Office confirmed all previous mandatory and voluntary evacuations have been lifted.
The FFS is working with Greater Naples Fire Rescue, North Collier Fire Rescue, Marco Island Fire Rescue, Collier County Emergency Management, Collier County Sheriff’s Office and other local agencies.
The FFS has a 16 tractor plow units from around the state working to contain the blaze, as well as three single-engine air tankers, one fixed-wing aircraft and four helicopters, including CCSO’s Air Rescue 1, which is helping with water drops.
In addition, a large air tanker from Lake City is helping. On Thursday, the tanker dropped four drops of 3,000 gallons of fire retardant each.
Along with the Green Incident Management Team, a dozer strike team from Northeast Florida and two other dozer strike teams that helped with the wildfires in the Panhandle are assisting.
Drivers are being asked to use caution as there is heavy smoke in the area.
Max Hasse Community Center, 3390 Golden Gate Blvd. W., and Golden Gate Community Center, 4701 Golden Gate Parkway, were been designated as reunification centers for displaced residents, where food, water and shelter are being provided.
Because of the flames, I-75 was closed Wednesday from mile marker 101 to mile marker 80 but reopened Thursday afternoon.
Governor Ron DeSantis visited Collier County Thursday morning and addressed the fire alongside local officials.
According to Greater Naples Fire, crews worked on spot fires throughout the night Wednesday into Thursday morning and were able to save several small structures.
Thursday morning crews were also able to put out flames at the fire off 20th Avenue SE before the 36th Ave SE fire formed.
Three firefighters with Greater Naples Fire sustained minor illnesses while fighting the fire Wednesday, officials said Thursday morning. One was hospitalized. A few residents sustained minor illnesses as well.
According to a firefighter on scene, the fire jumped I-75 at mile marker 94 Wednesday afternoon.
Thirty nearby structures were threatened Wednesday, according to FFS. Forestry said on Wednesday the fire behavior was extreme with very high flame height.
Collier Sheriff’s deputies evacuated homes along three residential streets in Golden Gate Estates including 34th Avenue SE, 36th Avenue SE and 38th Avenue SEt Wednesday.
There were two previously unrelated brush fires in the same area along 20th Avenue SE and 22nd Avenue SE where some evacuations took place as well, according to the Collier County Sheriff’s Office.
Two more brush fires were also burning east of Keane Avenue, and there was a voluntary evacuation order for all streets south of Keane, according to Greater Naples Fire.
Eventually, the several fires across Collier County combined into one large fire, which is now being called the 36th Ave SE fire.
The City of Miami Fire, Miami Dade Fire, Coral Gables Fire and the Broward County Sheriff’s Department helped local crews as well.