PORT ST. LUCIE — It’s official.
The massive, 28-acre vegetative debris fire that began Aug. 25 near Range Line and Glades Cut Off roads and sent vast amounts of smoke over the area, is out.
No more fire. No more smoke.
That’s per the latest update Friday from Miguel Nevarez, wildfire mitigation specialist with the Florida Forest Service.
“As of today (Friday), the Forestry Service has closed out the incident,” he said. “We are no longer going to be monitoring or going back there on a daily basis to evaluate it because we have determined that the smoke has been completely extinguished.”
Nary a flame, either.
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“With the added hurricane rain over the past few days, on top of what … the people on site were flooding water with, the combination of those two has made it to the point where there's no fire, and there's no smoke,” Nevarez said.
In the days after the fire began officials said they planned to let it burn, but that changed to a new initiative involving flooding the site with reclaimed water from the City of Port St. Lucie from a 36-inch pipe about a mile away.
Water began flowing via an aqueduct or ditch from the pipe on Sept. 14, according to officials. A large berm or dike was created around the fire, which was started by lightning, to allow the reclaimed water to flood it. The piles of debris were 20- to 30-feet high.
Nevarez said they estimated it would be out a little sooner, but before Hurricane Ian came through there were some smoking spots remaining.
In total, the city provided 30.927 million gallons — equivalent to more than 46 Olympic size swimming pools — to the location, stopping Sept. 21 at the developer’s request, according to Sarah Prohaska, communications director with the City of Port St. Lucie.
The reclaimed water cost is $5,876.13, and will be billed to the property owner, PSL Land Investments LLC, and The Kolter Group LLC, Prohaska stated via e-mail.
“Additional costs for the emergency contractor, utility staffing, and necessary materials required for the piping modifications to the reclaimed water main are still being compiled and will be sent to the developer for payment,” Prohaska stated.
Various Kolter representatives did not respond to repeated voicemails and emails over several days after the fire.
Court records show Verano Development, listed as managed by the Kolter Group, on June 1 filed to evict Michael Marburger, doing business as Mike’s Organic Topsoil and Irrigation by Michael Marburger Inc. from about 200 acres, which Marburger had possession of under an oral rental agreement.
In a July 6 filing, the parties reported reaching a confidential settlement agreement.
Alexandra Kuchta, state Department of Environmental Protection press secretary, said via email Sept. 16 that yard trash recycling facilities have to have a valid registration to operate.
“While the property on Range Line Road in St. Lucie County previously held a valid registration from August 2012 to July 2022, its registration is no longer active,” Kuchta stated. “To be clear, yard trash recycling operations at this site are not currently authorized. This will be taken into account as the department moves forward with its regulatory review.”
Will Greenlee is a breaking news reporter for TCPalm. Follow Will on Twitter @OffTheBeatTweet or reach him by phone at 772-267-7926. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org
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This article originally appeared on Treasure Coast Newspapers: Large 28-acre vegetative debris fire is out in Port St. Lucie