Fire crews assess damage, stay prepared for next threat

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CHARLOTTE COUNTY - Fire crews on the Suncoast remain on alert after more than 600 acres burned in a number of brush fires Wednesday evening.

The fire caused evacuations and even burned down a modular home. Thursday, as crews mopped up, they were also on the lookout for more.

Drought conditions mixed with winds and just a little spark can cause places to go up in a flash.

“He lost his trailer but nobody was hurt," says Patrick Mahoney with the Florida Forestry Service. Off Bermont Road east of Punta Gorda, 500 acres went up just like that. So did a mobile home and few other items sitting in yards. "This fire moved faster than any other fire I have ever seen. It made it really difficult to get things out of the way."

It wasn't the only one. Fire crews are still putting out hot spots across the Suncoast. “We had a fire in Rotonda, we had the fire here. We had a fire in DeSoto (County) and one in Hardee," says Mahoney.

80 acres burned just south of Englewood in Rotonda Lakes. It caused residents to evacuate homes as teams of fire crews weaved the flames and tiny embers through neighborhoods. "We just want to say thank you to the firemen. They just did their best and we are really thankful. All of our neighbors are," says resident Marcia Cullinan.

A few power poles caught fire there, but not a single structure. "This is what we do. All of our stuff is up and guys are ready to go to respond at a moment’s notice," says Mahoney.

He adds that residents should be ready, too. He says a few precautions may have saved homes. "There is no vegetation around it. He has rocks under his stairs."

Now officials warn to be on the lookout for the next one. "The weather is right. We get that ignition source and we are going to be running again."

We are told that the trailer that burned down was not someone's primary residence.