Lake County residents claim new development causing smoke to enter homes

‘It looked like one of the homes in the neighborhood was on fire,’ a neighbor said

CLERMONT, Fla. – Residents in a Lake County neighborhood claim smoke has become a nuisance in their community, and they say increased development is the cause of the problem.

“The fire kept moving and we could zoom in where it was coming from which was right behind you,” said Lori Kimzey.

Kimzey said that’s what she has been seeing on her morning walks in her Serenoa Lakes neighborhood in the greater Clermont area.

She along with neighbors shared multiple pictures and videos of some of the hazy smoke Kimzey said has plagued her community for months. She said last Thursday was the worst she had ever seen it.

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“It looked like one of the homes in the neighborhood was on fire, " said Kimzey. “As we came around the corner you could tell it was coming behind us, on the Orange County side, not to blame Orange County because on 27, all the development south, north, it’s just — it’s getting worse.”

Neighbors say the construction zones that surround their neighborhood is where the smoke is coming. It’s been seeping into their homes and while they say any development is a good thing, they say there has to be a balance.

One neighbor said, “Every time we get these large burns we get the ashes from them, and the smell and the one on Thursday were so bad we had to go into the house.”

This neighbor doesn’t wish to share his name but said there needs to be a better way to get results.

The neighbor said, “We understand the places growing around here but they can do better than controlled burns. There are ways you can grind up the wood.”

Some ways suggested include turning the wood into mulch.

Another neighbor said, “Do it somewhere remote, don’t do it on days when it’s windy... there just has to be something else done.”

This neighbor told News 6 the burns have been so bad, he has started to wear a mask indoors.

The Florida Forest Service states in its guidelines that open burning of land-clearing debris is allowed if the burn happens between the hours of 9 a.m. and one hour before sunset.

The burn’s location must be set back at least 1,000 feet from any occupied building and 100 feet from a paved public road.

“If they can just be more thoughtful when they do things,” Kimzey said. “I feel like we are not taken into consideration — our health.”

The Florida Forest Service confirmed the department did go out to the area this past Friday and said that the landowner was in regulation when burning the land-clearing debris.

The department advises residents that smoke can travel hundreds of miles and these incidents of smoke in people’s homes can come from anywhere.

For residents, the Florida Forest Service encouraged anyone to reach out with any complaints so that they can act accordingly.

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About the Author:

Brian Didlake joined the News 6 team as a reporter in March 2021.