News Cast 4/26

News Cast for April 26th:

Candle may have sparked house fire

An Okeechobee man had to flee a burning home on NE 54th Trail late Saturday, Okeechobee County Sheriff Deputies said.

Deputies found the southeastern and rear parts of the home engulfed in fire and smoke.

One of the parents fainted at the scene and was transported to Raulerson Hospital for treatment.

Okeechobee County Fire Rescue was able to put out the blaze.

Sheriff Deputies said the oldest child in the home told them she had placed a scented candle inside a jar in her bedroom.  While outside she saw smoke coming from the rear of the home and ran inside her room.   She found another child near the candle and smoke and fire in the room, picked up the child and fled outside.

The Fire Marshall will determine the cause of the blaze.

Helicopter helps find Okeechobee man involved in burglary

A Martin County air unit helped deputies arrest an Okeechobee man on Saturday.

Oreste Vergel, 49, was charged with stealing pool equipment from a family pool in Stuart.

A witness said he saw Vergel park next to a home on NW Britt Court in Stuart and walk around the pool equipment.

He told deputies that Vergel picked up several items from the pool equipment area and left the premises.

The helicopter spotted the vehicle and alerted deputies to its location.

A traffic stop was made on Bay Colony Drive.

Deputies said they found the pool equipment in the vehicle

Vergel claimed it was trash and that he found it alongside the road.  He went on to state that he did not understand why he took the items because he lives in a $400,000 home and does not need the items.

He faces burglary and other charges.

Water quality is getting worse

The impairment of water in Southwest Florida was the subject of a report released by the Calusa Water keeper.

Fueled by runoff and nutrients caused by development and agriculture, the Calusa Water Keeper report said our regulatory system for water quality is not working.

John Cassani said they recently won a court ruling over the lake Okeechobee regulation schedule, “The outcome of that was the US Army Corps needed to formally consult with the US Fish and Wildlife Service about the regulation schedule in the context of harmful algal blooms and endangered species.  We hope that will carry over to the new regulation schedule when it does come online.”

He said the reservoirs and treatment areas have not been helping as much as expected.

“We are not seeing the restoration plans work as well as we’d like to see in terms of reversing the impairment.  In some basins we are seeing more nutrients like nitrogen.”

71% of the nutrient content in the Caloosahatchee River comes from agriculture.

The study looked at land use, land mass, development, the percent of agriculture and population trends in the region.

The report found that Lee, Collier, Manatee and Charlotte experienced the greatest increase in water quality impairment.

The report stated fecal bacteria are the most frequently occurring impairment in Lee, Charlotte, Sarasota, Manatee, Hillsborough and Pinellas County.

The counties percent of total water bodies impaired from highest to lowest were Glades, Hendry and Lee County.

Nutrients represented the highest proportion of impairments in Collier, Glades and Hendry County.