Florida is on fire, but homeowners stand down from the worst

Firefighters were not able to save this large shed during the Indian Lake wildfire.
Firefighters were not able to save this large shed during the Indian Lake wildfire. Tampa Bay Times

Evacuation orders have been lifted in Collier County where a brush fire has been raging over the weekend along with two others in Lee and Polk counties and more than 100 across the state.

Collier County officials said Sunday that the roughly 5,500-acre fire in Golden Gate Estates is about 50 percent contained, and the rest is close to being secured after firefighters were aided by rain.

“There was a lot of good work done last night, and mother nature gets credit for giving us a little bit of a break,” Dan Summers, director of Collier County emergency services, said during a news conference.

Greater Naples Fire Rescue District Chief Kingman Schuldt said the initial report that nine homes were destroyed in the blaze was possibly overblown. Fire officials confirmed that three families have been displaced after their homes were destroyed, but are still trying to determine whether there are more.

He asked that residents stay clear of equipment and crews working to contain the blaze, which still has some hot spots and smoldering trees.

“We’re trying to do everything we can do to get people back to their homes,” Schuldt said, “but there’s a risk with that. We must remain vigilant to give them their work space.”

The rain also helped crews battle a fire in Lee County, where a blaze — likely started by a lit cigarette — destroyed four homes and engulfed more than 400 acres.

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. The blaze was about 60 percent contained on Saturday, officials said.

As of Sunday morning, there were 125 wildfires consuming about 84,000 acres, including 38 that were more than 100 acres, according to the Florida Forest Service.