Commercial lawn mower caused brush fire that shut down I-275 and Gandy Boulevard in St. Petersburg

Posted at 4:37 PM, Apr 07, 2017
and last updated 2017-04-08 09:54:51-04

St. Pete Fire battled a large brush fire that shut down I-275 and Gandy Blvd. in St. Petersburg on Friday.






Officials said they received a call about a commercial lawn mower overheating and lighting grass on fire around 3:30 p.m. and quickly responded.

PHOTO GALLERY | Firefighters battle massive brush fire

Fire officials say they had a hard time fighting the flames which quickly spread between 40 to 50 acres due to gusty winds and a lack of hydrants.  Crews were forced to get water from a hydrant located at a nearby Wawa and truck it to the hot spots.

The thick smoke lingered over I-275 making it too dangerous for motorists to drive through.

Police initially went door to door at the Village Green Mobile Home park and told residents to evacuate.

They're telling us we have to leave now," Maureen Ciranko said.

Ciranko was so worried she sprayed water on her home.

"I'd like to see if I can keep my home from burning down.

Police officers and firefighters went door to door, making sure no one needed help. They were worried because the community is right next to the highway.

"We went to WAWA to get them {the dogs} some water and stuff like that and then we just came back to the park and we've just been sitting there while parked," Larry Way said.

Neighbors watched out for each other. Many of them waited near the front of the community until it was okay to go back home.

"If it's important, I'd rather be evacuated and safe than just being inconvenienced," Wanda Gambrell said.

Police allowed residents to return to their homes shortly after 7:30 p.m.

Duke Energy reported approximately 2,800 customers without power in the area due to the fire.

A firefighter suffered heat exhaustion and was rushed to the hospital. No other injuries have been reported.


Officers reopened I-275 to traffic at 8:00 p.m, but said Gandy will remain closed for several hours.