Illegal pile burn leads to 40-acre fire in Apopka

Investigation is underway

Illegal pile burn leads to 40-acre fire in Apopka
Illegal pile burn leads to 40-acre fire in Apopka

APOPKA, Fla. – Rangers with the Florida Forest Service discovered an illegal pile burn in the backyard of a home in Apopka was the cause of a brush fire Sunday afternoon.

The ground is now charred in the area leading to a neighborhood off Marden Road behind Ella J. Gilmore Street.

“It was rapidly growing, so as first crews arrived on scene, they started calling for additional resources,” said Orange County Fire Marshal David Kilbury.

Kilbury said, while Orange County firefighters were using hoses to extinguish the fire, Rangers worked to keep the fire from spreading to neighboring homes.

The Florida Forest Service used bulldozers to create a fire line with dirt. It’s a tactic they use to create a barrier, preventing the fire from spreading even further.

Orange County Fire Rescue said the fire was between 7 and 10 acres around 2 p.m. but grew to 40 acres by 2 p.m. Firefighters said shortly before 3 p.m. that it was 40% contained then about an hour later it was 90% contained.

It was fully contained by about 5:15 p.m. Sunday. No evacuations were ordered and no injuries were reported.

Orange County Fire Rescue crews are battling a brush fire in Apopka on April 4, 2021. (Homer Salcedo, News 6)

Fire officials want Floridians to be mindful that we’re in the dry season. Lack of rain, dry vegetation and wind gusts can be a recipe for dangerous brush fires. Kilbury is encouraging homeowners to be proactive.

“Leaves in the gutters, branches, debris on the roof, all of that needs to be cleared because that is a significant fire threat to a home,” said Kilbury. “If they have a wildland fire that’s gotten out of control, call 911 immediately to get us en route to let the heavy guns that fight fire get on the scene.”

Kilbury said fires should be contained to cooking or small campfires about two feet in diameter, and that controlled burns should be done properly to keep the fire from getting out of control.

Florida Forest Service public information officer Cliff Frazier said Monday that rangers found a burn pile behind a home that’s next to some undeveloped land and they believe that the flames spread from there.

An investigation is underway and when the person responsible is identified, he or she could be fined by the Florida Department of Agriculture.

A brush fire was reported in Apopka on April 4, 2021. (Homer Salcedo, News 6)

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