Wet weather could aid firefighting efforts in Golden Gate Estates
36th Avenue Southeast fire victim Pranee Nakarintra shifts through debris in search for her belongings May 16, 2020. Naples Daily News
Rains and low winds forecast to sweep through Southwest Florida this week could help firefighters clear hot spots and increase containment of the brush fire burning in east Collier County.
The 36th Avenue Southeast fire in Golden Gate Estates remains at 8,663 acres in size with 40 percent containment since Friday, according to the Florida Forrest Service. More than 140 personnel and several aircraft are battling the blaze.
Wet, cool weather can help stamp out fires. A front passing through Southeast Florida will bring high humidity and a chance of rain this week, meteorologist Molly Merrifield said.
“There will be a 60 to 70 percent chance of rain Tuesday into Wednesday,” Merrifield said. “Both days have a potential to be wet, even into Thursday.”
Overcast skies and higher humidity along with low wind speeds aid fire containment and reduction efforts, said Kingman Schuldt, chief of the Greater Naples Fire Rescue District.
The weather "helps us as long as there’s no lightning,” Schuldt said.
The fire district continues making process on containing and extinguishing the blaze that has destroyed seven homes since the fire’s outbreak Wednesday afternoon.
The Florida Forest Service has begun mop-up operations, which are meant to strengthen containment lines, spokeswoman Ludie Bond said.
“In addition to widening containment lines, crews go out in brush trucks and spray water or foam while identifying hot areas within the perimeter and containment lines,” Bond said. “It can last for quite a while.”
Fire personnel are keeping a heavy presence in residential areas to contain any flare-up near homes, Bond said. All evacuation orders have lifted, though residents should be prepared if fires reappear.
Brush fire strike teams from districts outside Collier County are being sent away as firefighting conditions improve daily, Schuldt said.
“The active fire is, for the most part, extinguished,” he said.
Vegetation continues to smolder, and the ground holds a lot of heat. The threat of flair-ups is always possible, Bond said.
Firefighters are working to reduce smoke, but fog is expected for the coming days. Merrifield warned drivers to stay safe during the early morning hours.