South Beach Regional Fire Authority responded to a fire in a transient camp off of state Route 105 on Thursday morning that completely destroyed a trailer.
The initial call came in at 7:31 a.m. of a travel trailer fully engaged, threatening other trailers and the forest in the camp, located in the woods north of the highway, said Battalion Chief Darin VanderVeur.
“One of our off-duty captains was on scene,” said VanderVeur in an interview. “We were doing a shift change. Normally we would not have had that many people.”
Responding with two engines, two tenders, and two medic units, firefighters arrived at 7:45 a.m. to find the trailer completely engaged — trees were on fire and spread to other trailers, and there was burning magnesium and propane tanks in and amongst the clutter of the area, VanderVeur said, calling for a careful approach.
“We know this place already,” VanderVeur said. “It’s always cautious.”
The clutter complicated the response as firefighters had to clear out junk with their pike poles to root out the fire, VanderVeur said.
“You never know how bad that can get,” said Chief Dennis Benn at the scene. “That whole thing could have gone up.”
The trailer was a total loss, but firefighters were able to rapidly knock down the fire, VanderVeur said, clearing out around 9:30 a.m. No injuries were reported, VanderVeur said.
The occupant was straightforward about the cause, VanderVeur said.
“Sounds like he caused the fire,” VanderVeur said. “He was smoking a cigarette in bed and fell asleep. When we got here it was already fully engulfed.”