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1. Naples infant needs heart transplant; fundraiser Saturday

Lucia Torres would be the center of attention if she could attend a fundraiser Saturday to help with expenses for a heart transplant she desperately needs.

Instead, the 4-month-old Naples infant is in the pediatric intensive care unit at Joe DiMaggio Children’s Hospital in Hollywood.

Born Dec. 8 with a heart condition, she’s had a setback recently with a cough and fatigue, and she needed to be intubated to provide oxygen support.

Her parents, Annie and Victor Torres, are on pins and needles waiting for a phone call that a donor's heart is available.

Annie Torres, a kindergarten teacher at Golden Gate Elementary School, is on leave from her job and spends her time at the hospital with the baby. 

The fundraiser is from 3 until 7 p.m., Saturday, April 7; at St. Agnes Catholic Church, 7775 Vanderbilt Beach Road, North Naples. Admission is $10 (shirt included); kids attend free. Tickets can be purchased online at https://helphopelive.org. Or donate by calling 1-800-642-8399.

2. 1,783-acre fire in Big Cypress not expected to grow

A 1,783-acre brush fire in Big Cypress National Preserve was 20 percent contained Wednesday afternoon, officials said.

The Spoonbill Wildfire is about two-miles north of Interstate 75 at mile marker 69 and half a mile north and west of the Bundschu Grade in the Little Marsh area, according to preserve officials.

The blaze showed “zero movement” overnight and “very, very minimal fire behavior” early Wednesday afternoon, said Jake Botts, duty officer for Big Cypress National Preserve.

After conducting air drops “on some of the heat that was on the edge of the line” Tuesday, crews on Wednesday were monitoring fire lines and putting out hot spots, he said.

Botts said crews were “extremely confident” that there won’t be any additional growth. No structures were threatened early Wednesday afternoon.

The cause of the fire is still under investigation. Park officials were notified of the blaze Saturday. – Patrick Riley/Staff

3. Endangered Florida panther killed by vehicle in Collier County is 12th roadkill this year

A 3-year-old Florida panther was found dead Tuesday after being hit by a vehicle between Fort Myers and Immokalee.

The panther, an endangered species, was struck on State Road 82, just west of Corkscrew Road, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission reported. It marks the 12th panther killed by a vehicle this year, all in Collier and Hendry counties, according to the FWC.

Six panthers were killed by vehicles by this time last year.

Two other panthers have been found dead in 2018 of unknown causes on ranches in Collier County.

Biologists gain valuable information by examining panther remains. Report injured or dead panthers to the FWC Wildlife Alert Hotline at 888-404-FWCC (3922). 

 

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