Neighbors upset with smoke, smell from Cape Coral debris burning

Reporter: Zach Oliveri Writer: Matthew Seaver
Published: Updated:

Hurricane Ian debris is being burned just steps away from some homes in Cape Coral, and those living nearby are fed up with the smoke and the smell.

Neighbors near the debris that is being burned near Diplomat Parkway and Burnt Store Road have adapted their day-to-day routines to avoid the smoke. They understand the community must clean up, but the smoke is too much.

Vegetative hurricane debris burning site in Cape Coral. (Credit: WINK News)

There is an air curtain incinerator at work to burn what the city says is vegetative hurricane debris that is not ground into mulch.

WINK News spoke with neighbors, many of whom didn’t want to talk on camera, but they all agreed that the smoke makes it rough to go outside for anything.

They can smell it. It sticks to their clothes, and some say it gets inside their cars, so they keep them parked in their garages.

One of those people is Tim Fisher.

“Half of the time, it is in the right direction, and it’s not pleasant. Just as if you have, you know, a campfire at a little campground or something. You try to sit on the right side of the fire, not on the smokey side of the fire. We don’t have that option here,” said Fisher.

Vegetative hurricane debris burning site in Cape Coral. (Credit: WINK News)

“I get to wake up to it on the morning. And I get to look at it all day long. When I’m out mowing the yard or working on a little project or something around the house, you know it’s there,” said Fisher.

Fisher lives right across the street from the burn zone. Rich Allison won’t even walk outside, especially in the morning

“It makes you lose your urge to do anything out front around here anymore,” said Allison. “You got to cover the cars up. You got to wash the cars a couple times over a month now instead of, it’s just dust and smoke everywhere.”

“If the wind shifts, we’re going in the backyard. Because that’ll burn your eyes,” Fisher said.

Fisher understands the city needs to clean up, but he wishes it could be done another way. “I just don’t see how it’s an effective way to remove the debris from the hurricane.”

The city says the air curtain incinerator only operates if they receive daily clearance from the Florida Forest Service.

Cape Coral said it would continue to burn the debris until it’s gone.

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