CLOSE

Aerial footage taken Monday night of the brush fire in Collier County. Video by firefighter Alex Ihrig of the Immokalee Fire Control District Alex Ihrig/Immokalee Fire Control District

LINKEDINCOMMENTMORE

Officials from the Office of Agricultural Law Enforcement have closed their investigation into a 7,230-acre brush fire that raged through eastern Collier County in early March, saying the cause of the blaze is "undetermined," according to a report from the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services.

Investigators wrote in their 27-page report that they didn't find any "ignition sources, accelerants, or evidence of arson" in or around "the area of origin of the fire" and that there was no lightning reported in the area on March 5, when the blaze began in Picayune Strand State Forest before "(h)igh winds, dry conditions and plentiful fuel" caused the fire to "burn quickly and move rapidly from east to west-southwest and jump several lines" established by firefighters.

More:Gov. Scott lauds 'team effort' in Collier wildfire battle

Officials previously also ruled out that a prescribed burn caused the massive fire.

The blaze, dubbed the Lee Williams Road Fire, soon grew in size and forced hundreds of residents to temporarily evacuate as the flames started to threaten scores of homes south of Beck Boulevard and Alligator Alley and east of Collier Boulevard. Four rural homes were destroyed in the fire, but nobody was hurt.

More:Week after heart attack, Collier man and wife lose home he built to brush fire

Autoplay
Show Thumbnails
Show Captions

Investigators noted that there is a power line pole near the fire's point of origin, but that it was "undamaged." The area where the blaze started is also "not near any railroad tracks," officials wrote.

"No witnesses to the fire starting have been located and no persons were observed in the area on the date of the fire," the report stated. "However, human causes cannot be ruled out."

More:Daring firefighters describe Collier blaze battle: 'We do it gladly'

Based on "burn indicators" and weather conditions, investigators concluded that the blaze likely started "on the northeastern side near the driveway and gate area located at 5700 Lee Williams Rd.," according to the report. The vacant lot is owned by Hugh House, investigators wrote.

From there the fire gained strength, with flames charring trees that were 20 feet tall or higher, the report stated.

Investigators estimated  the massive blaze caused $1.144 million in damage.

Officials concluded their investigation on March 20 and closed the case.

More:Social media updates: Brush fire in eastern Collier

More:Collier County brush fire grows to 7,500 acres, but residents allowed to return and I-75 reopens

More:How to help families who lost homes in Collier fire

LINKEDINCOMMENTMORE
Read or Share this story: http://nplsne.ws/2nIQZPb