Lightning likely cause of wildfire in North Port, evacuees saw a wall of smoke, flames

Fire now contained at 100 percent
Posted at 11:22 PM, Apr 06, 2017
and last updated 2017-04-07 02:13:46-04

Crews worked tirelessly in windy and dry conditions to battle spot fires burning dangerously close to homes.

“Very frightening because it was so close I mean you couldn't hardly breathe,” Brigitte Grassman said. 

Grassman runs an animal shelter out of her home. She said when the fire started it was total chaos.

“I had six dogs, a rabbit, birds,” Grassman said. We just were told to get everyone out and try to save the house.”

Grassman said she heard a lot of lightning strikes near her home this morning. Hours later, she said she saw smoke and flames.

Crews with the Florida Forest Service tell people that fires can ignite after a lightning strike after several days have passed.

“If there is a lightning strike near your home watch that area for at least a week,” Patrick Mahoney with the Florida Forest Service said. “If you smell smoke or see smoke, go ahead and call 911.”

Evacuees were allowed back in their homes late Thursday night. They thanked the firefighters for saving their homes.

“Everybody is safe,” Grassman said. “They were so good the firefighters.”

A spot fire burned 2-3 acres and is 100 percent contained. The main fire estimated at 11 acres is also 100 percent contained.