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Wildfire threatens 2,000 homes in southwest Florida
April 21, 2017 / 11:53 PM / 5 months ago

Wildfire threatens 2,000 homes in southwest Florida

(Reuters) - A wildfire in southwest Florida triggered evacuation orders for about 2,000 homes on Friday, prompting the governor to deploy National Guard troops to help residents fleeing the flames.

The wildfire has charred about 4,800 acres (1,942 hectares) in Collier County and forced residents to evacuate their houses in the Golden Gate Estates area of Naples, Clark Ryals, a senior forester for the Florida Forest Service, said by telephone. The blaze was only 10 percent contained.

Nine homes were destroyed by the fire, Ryals said at a news conference later on Friday evening. One person suffered minor injuries in the fire.

“These wildfires are dangerous and if you’re within the evacuation area, do not stay in your home,” Florida Governor Rick Scott said in a statement after meeting with fire officials in the area.

Some people have resisted calls to leave their homes, Chief Kingman Schuldt of the Greater Naples Fire Rescue District said.

“Unfortunately we still have a lot of people in their homes in the evacuation areas and I would stress they do need to evacuate,” Schuldt told members of the media on Friday evening.

The fire, which erupted on Thursday, is consuming palmetto trees and grasses.

A smaller wildfire also broke out in Collier County on Thursday and spread across 350 acres (142 hectares). It has since been completely contained.

About 200 firefighters are working to stop the growth of the two blazes, which are about a mile apart. The governor, aside from deploying Florida National Guard troops, said he also authorized the use of five UH-60 Blackhawk helicopters to aid the effort.

The latest blazes follow a spate of other wildfires that have burned this month in drought-parched Florida, which prompted Scott to declare a state of emergency on April 11.

Reporting by Alex Dobuzinskis in Los Angeles, additional reporting by Timothy McLaughlin in Chicago; Editing by Cynthia Osterman and Jacqueline Wong

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