As reported by CNN and the Fort Myers News-Press, a fire in a grassy lot near the Southwest Florida International Airport consumed more than 3,500 parked rental vehicles last Friday, April 3. Nobody was injured, and the airport was undamaged, but the blaze took about 18 hours to extinguish.
When local authorities in Fort Myers, Florida, received calls of a brush fire in a grass lot near the airport, roughly 20 vehicles were reportedly on fire. When officials reached the scene, that number had reached more than 100 vehicles. By the fire's end, 3,516 cars were damaged or completely burned, while 3,850 were saved.
"They were being stored for the car rental agencies who were not renting cars during season due to COVID-19," Lee County Port Authority Director of communications Victoria Moreland said.
The fire created an eruption of black smoke that cast a dark sky over the 15-acre lot where the rental cars were stored. According to witnesses, there were several explosions and showers of sparks. It took firefighters roughly 18 hours to completely put the fire out by 10:30 a.m. Saturday morning, and helicopters completed about 80 airdrops in the effort.
The Florida Forestry Service of Caloosahatchee and more than 10 departments helped, including the Airport Fire Department, South Trail Fire Department, Lehigh Acres Fire Department, Estero Fire Department, San Carlos Fire Department, Bayshore Fire Department, City of Fort Myers Fire Department, Fort Myers Beach Fire Department, Bonita Springs Fire Department, Sanibel Fire Department and Iona-McGregor Fire Department.
The cause of the fire is unknown at this time, but investigation by the State Fire Marshal is reportedly underway. For more information visit the Fort Myers News-Press.
MIFR Engine 51 assisted Collier County in fighting RSW rental car lot fire pic.twitter.com/PozAdaDWWK— MIFR (@MarcoIslandFire) April 4, 2020
View from the Huey pic.twitter.com/arPbTPE6dN— Charlotte County Sheriff's Office (@CCSOFLSheriff) April 4, 2020
RSW Airport car lot fire pic.twitter.com/tjVcPtIxYV— Charlotte County Sheriff's Office (@CCSOFLSheriff) April 4, 2020