Fort Myers home burn after lightning, downed power lines spark chaos

Houses burst into flames across Fort Myers after horror lightning strikes, downed power lines and generators spark chaos after Hurricane Ian: Homes left to smolder as firefighters remain grounded

  • Floridians are picking up the pieces after Ian slammed the state causing flooding, fires and power outages 
  • Authorities have warned that fatalities will be ‘in the hundreds’ as the monster storm continues to rage 
  • Ian made landfall in Florida as Category 4 storm on Wednesday, hitting state with 150mph winds 
  • President Biden has declared the event a ‘major disaster’ in Florida which makes federal funding available 

Several houses in Fort Myers burst into flames and were left to smolder as firefighters were unable to get to the destruction in the aftermath of Hurricane Ian that caused catastrophic damage and left 2.7million people without power. 

Horrifying footage captured on video showed black smoke billowing into the sky and flames leaping from the structures in the coastal Florida town that remain surrounded by water from the storm surge that swooped in Wednesday afternoon.

It is not clear exactly what caused the fires to break out, but there have been reports that the blaze could have been sparked by damaged power cables, lightning strikes or generators being destroyed by the storm. 

Rescue workers and some residents began picking up the pieces from the scores of wrecked homes on Thursday after the monster storm tore through the area with howling winds, torrential rains and raging surf and caused massive power outages.

One of the mightiest storms to hit the U.S. mainland in recent years, Ian flooded communities before plowing across the peninsula to the Atlantic seaboard. The storm is now projected to regain hurricane strength as it crosses Florida and head north with its aim at the Carolinas. 

Homes in Fort Myers were on fire on Thursday as the area continues to be devastated in the aftermath of Hurricane Ian 

Dozens of homes are still underwater and many more buildings are badly damaged in the Fort Myers area a day after Hurricane Ian ripped through the state, according to new photos released by the US Coast Guard.

In one of the photos, part of what appears to be an entire neighborhood is underwater. In another section, debris covers the ground around homes.

 Fort Myers Fire Department shared a post on their Facebook page where they revealed how they navigated around fallen trees and possible electrical hazards to fight a fire on Katherine Street. 

The post read: ‘#Engine13 noted smoke coming from a two-story residential structure and had to navigate pulling a hose line around fallen trees and possible electrical hazards.’

‘Crews quickly performed an aggressive fire attack, search of the residence, and ventilation.’

Fort Myers Fire Department shared a post on their Facebook page where they revealed how they navigated around fallen trees and possible electrical hazards to fight a fire on Katherine Street

House fires – including this one on Katherine Street – have been reported across Fort Myers and other areas of Florida

Ian blasted ashore at the barrier island of Cayo Costa on Wednesday afternoon as a Category 4 hurricane with maximum sustained winds of 150 miles per hour.

It rapidly transformed Florida’s southwestern shoreline, dotted with sandy beaches, coastal towns and mobile home parks, into a disaster zone as it swept seawater into waterfront homes.

Governor Ron DeSantis said that Lee and Charlotte counties, home to more than 900,000 people, were ‘basically off the grid.’ 

‘The impacts of this storm are historic and the damage that was done was historic,’ DeSantis said during a news briefing. ‘We have never seen a flood event like this. We have never seen storm surge of this magnitude.’

There were two unconfirmed storm-related fatalities, DeSantis said. The extent of deaths and injuries was unclear on Thursday morning as rescue workers were only starting to respond to calls after not being able to go out during the treacherous conditions.

DeSantis said 28 helicopters were performing water rescues. He also said the bridge to Sanibel Island – a barrier island on the Gulf coast – was severely damaged and impassible. Two area hospitals were evacuated, with patients moved to higher ground.

Homes in Fort Myers have been decimated by the storm, with properties washed away – some crashing into other buildings

Dozens of homes are still underwater and many more buildings are badly damaged in the Fort Myers area a day after Hurricane Ian ripped through the state, according to new photos released by the US Coast Guard

In one of the photos, part of what appears to be an entire neighborhood is underwater

Debris in a lake near damaged properties in Fort Myers, Florida, being pushed to one side by the 155mph storm winds

The extreme damage can be seen in aerial photographs, with homes swept towards the water in Fort Myers

In the early morning hours after it passed, residents and rescue workers in hard-hit areas like Venice, located in Sarasota County about 75 miles south of Tampa, hunted for family and friends as trees, debris and power lines covered roads and standing water washed over the ground.

Kurt Hoffman, sheriff of Sarasota County, told residents in a Twitter post that there were more than 500 calls for help and that they are ‘triaging’ them for the most urgent.

‘Patrol deputies resumed operations a few hours ago & are responding to the highest priority calls first,’ Hoffman wrote. ‘Sit tight, we know many of you need help.’

The search for loved ones was made more difficult as cellphone services were often cut.

‘A lot of down trees, a lot of flooding everywhere. We are trying to get a hold of my daughter,’ said Terri Byrd as she sat in a vehicle in a Walmart parking lot trying to get cell service after spending the night at an elementary school in Venice.

Ian, now a tropical storm, slackened as it trekked across Florida but was still producing strong winds, heavy rains and storm surge, including in Georgia, South Carolina and North Carolina, the U.S. National Hurricane Center said.

The storm, packing maximum sustained winds of 65 mph, was about 40 miles southeast of Orlando, the Miami-based forecaster said. 

Aerial shots show the level of devastation caused by Hurricane Ian, as mobile homes and other less secure structures can be seen strewn across the floodwater

NAPLES: Emergency services in Naples have already begun rescue missions for residents who are trapped in their homes

It was expected to reach the Atlantic Coast on Thursday afternoon, unleashing drenching rains and threatening to bring more extensive flooding. Up to 30 inches of rain was forecast to fall on parts of central Florida, the hurricane center said.

President Joe Biden spoke to DeSantis on Thursday, saying his administration was committed to continue close coordination and that Federal Emergency Management Agency Director Deanne Criswell will be in Florida on Friday.

Biden also approved a disaster declaration, making federal resources available to the counties impacted by the storm.

The damages caused by Ian will turn out to be catastrophic and FEMA is preparing for potentially thousands of people to be displaced in the long-term, Criswell told CNN.

‘I don’t think that we can quantify it yet,’ Criswell said when asked about damages from the storm. ‘But I can tell you that it is going to be catastrophic.’

She said FEMA was preparing for thousands of long-term displaced people in the region, as large population centers were hit as well as families living in mobile homes.

Some utilities had started to restore power for customers now that the storm has passed southern Florida but the number of outages increased as the storm moved across Florida.

Florida Power & Light Co (FPL) mobilized more than 13,000 personnel to support power restoration efforts.

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