Golden Gate Estates fire caused by powerlines

Reporter: Annalise Iraola
Published: Updated:

While Friday’s Jung fire in Golden Gate Estates is finally out, firefighters remain on the scene almost a week later, ready to react to any hot spots.

The flames took down two homes and a bunch of barns and scorched lots of property, but the fire didn’t get everything in its path. The Florida Forest Service said the 330-acre blaze began because of powerlines.

The winds quickly spread the flames through the Golden Gate Estates neighborhood.

Firefighters brought in choppers to drop massive amounts of water at once.

Then there was Chris Conner, a resident of the area.

“They came and wanted me to leave,” Conner said. “And they didn’t like it because I said I’m not going anywhere.”

Conner not only didn’t leave, he grabbed his garden hose and fought the flames alone.

“See where the fire came right up to the building? Yeah, melted the pipe,” Conner said.

He couldn’t bring himself to leave because, to him, what’s inside is priceless.

“I’ve got vehicles back here I have to take care of, and a lot of people will say, well, they’re just vehicles. Well, they’re not just vehicles. It’s not like a new car that you can easily get replaced,” Conner said.

Chris Conner stayed behind to save his home. (CREDIT: WINK News)

Conner called his wife Dee Dee when he first noticed the smoke.

By the time she made it back to their neighborhood, firefighters wouldn’t let her through.

“The emotions were overwhelming, and I pulled off and sat on the side of the road where everybody was parked for a little while. And I just, I was in tears because I was just so upset,” she said.

Conner said he was frightened, but he didn’t have too much time to focus on his emotions.

When the fire reached his shed, he threw the hose down and ran.

By a stroke of luck, he said, he ran right into firefighters.

“They pulled back here with their tanker and pulled over there, and they got their hoses out and sprayed, and then they sprayed over here,” he said.

Late Friday night, when firefighters finally told Golden Gate Estates neighbors it was safe to go home, Dee Dee had words with her husband.

“I was a little upset with him. When he told me he wasn’t evacuating. However, it probably was a good thing that he didn’t because the wonderful Collier Fire Department responded as soon as he called and said, you know, it was beyond his control. Otherwise, I have no doubt we would have lost the shop, at least, and possibly the house, too,” she said.

All Florida Forest Service will say is that power lines caused the fire in Golden Gate Estates. They don’t say how.

The Jung fire wasn’t the one blaze last week that was sparked by power lines. The two brush fires around South McCall Road and Shell Mound Circle in Charlotte County started when power lines did something called “Arcing.”

The wind caused the line to create big sparks that dropped to the ground. Florida Forest Service says it happens a lot when the high wind starts to whip around like we saw last Friday.

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