Rain is something emergency crews in North Port are hoping for. Piles of mulch continue to slowly burn at a business there. Crews have been on scene on Joe Jeff Street for nearly two days. Nearby residents are also ready for it to be put out.
Early Monday morning Rick Matthews' wife saw something strange. "She thought it was the sunrise then she realized the sun doesn't come up in that direction. It was the flames."
The bright light from the fire was coming from the nearby mulch pit. Since then emergency crews have worked around the clock to keep the flames down but the pit still burns. "We had to run the air condition last night. We could not leave the windows open because of the smoke. We are looking for flying embers. We just redone the pool cage."
"An ember out of a fire like this can travel a half a mile or more." North Port Fire Marshal Michael Frantz says it's not as easy it sounds. Some of the mounds are more than 20 feet tall. "The fire gets pretty deep into that mulch pile. It takes quite a long time to be able to put that out."
Because there are no hydrants around they are using a nearby lake and trucking the rest in. Using four sprinkler like devices pumping more than 500 gallons per minute. "They are starting to separate the pile some and try to thin it out and loosen it up."
Sporadically a little help from mother nature. "It's raining. We've been waiting for this for a day now."
Something desperately needed. The lack of water probably helping cause the problem in the first place. "It has been extremely dry out. We have not had any significant rainfall in a number of weeks. We are hoping to get something a little more significant," says Frantz.
In the meantime those here like Matthews are thankful first responders are continuing the long response. "I am glad they are here that is for sure."
It isn't the first time a fire has broke out at the mulch business owned by Venice Land Clearing. It happened about six years ago and burned for a week.
Mutual aid has come in from a number of neighboring agencies. Monday the Sarasota County Sheriff's helicopter dropped more than 60 buckets of water on the site.