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Possible funnel cloud spotted west of Arcadia

A busy evening in DeSoto County, with a fire at a recycling center off of Route 17 and then there was a possible funnel sighting just west of the fire scene. 

Dorothy Wise and Staci Bryan Garza sent pictures of what appears to be a funnel cloud.
Our meteorologists are taking a look, but the majority of storms have passed. 
We are not aware of any damage near the area where these clouds were spotted.
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Close call after kayak capsized near Captiva

Three people in Lee County are thankful after a close call at the beach. Their kayak capsized about 300 yards from shore near Captiva.

An eyewitness and a first responder said they were worried about the safety of the people of the board.

Sanibel and Captiva Island Fire Rescue along with Lee County Sheriff’s Deputies were on the beach and helped the three stranded people.

“At first I thought they had just went for a swim then I realized the kayak was capsized and I figured I better go check out if they needed help before a boat got to them,” said Brandon Dodson, eyewitness.

They were okay and able to make it back to the shore. Witnesses say three people were aboard a one person kayak at the time of the accident.

Witnesses say only two of the people on board the kayak were wearing life vests.

Fire officials say it is a lesson learned in beach safety.

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Hurricane season arrives with emphasis on preparedness

Hurricane season officially arrives Monday, but it is never too early to be prepared in case a storm strikes Southwest Florida.

Taking time now for the essentials will help later. Find the flashlights, batteries and first aid kits are the starters for a basic disaster supply kit.

“I’ve already sat through a hurricane here in Florida, it’s actually pretty scary. If it does come, I’d rather board up and leave. But it’s better to be ready than not ready at all,” said Shem Berrios, shopper.

According to the National Hurricane Center, keep a list of emergency contacts, like hospitals and law enforcement. Make sure to know if your home is in an evacuation area and what your evacuation routes would be.

Other ideas can be found here.

Survival list here.

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DEP investigating fire at Arcadia recycling facility

The aftermath of a scrap yard fire is now the center of an investigation by the Department of Environmental Protection.

A massive plume of smoke drifted into the air from Allied Recycling, just outside of Arcadia on Sunday night. Investigators say the fire may have spewed dangerous chemicals into the air.

Also, water used to fight the fire may have washed toxic rust into nearby waterways. The investigation had only just begun on Monday.
Meanwhile, neighbors are questioning whether they are in danger. On Monday material was still smoldering and a fire truck remained on scene.
Candy Mendez lives close to where the flames broke out – and she described air that went into the atmosphere, which she believes threatens not just her own health – but that of her loved ones also. 
“I had to wear a hospital mask because I’m asthmatic,” she said. “I have a grandson here who is asthmatic and a daughter that’s asthmatic.”
Department of Environmental Protection workers were on scene Monday reviewing air and water quality.
“It was pretty bad – like you could actually smell chemicals and everything,” said Elsie Worley, who lives nearby.
The focus shifted to rust that may have been washed into waterways as firefighters doused the flames on Sunday.
“Now we’re having to worry about water because all the water they used might have contaminated our wells,” said Mendez. 
Sunday evening, emergency management told residents to stay inside and notified them of a voluntary evacuation that was later lifted. 

The manager of Allied Recycling says he believes a disgruntled ex-employee may have intentionally started it.

“Somebody intentionally set off the fire,” the company’s manager Chester Johnson had told us.
Cause of the fire remains under investigation.

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Appeals court slots ruling offers hope for outlets in Lee County

A court ruling could soon bring slot machines to the Naples-Fort Myers Greyhound Track. After years of debate, an appeals court found the state had no grounds to deny a license to a track in Gretna a city in Gadsden County, Florida.

So far, the state has turned down license requests because of an opinion issued by Attorney General Pam Bondi.

Lee County voters overwhelmingly approved slot machines back in 2012.

“If that’s what Lee County wants I think it’s important to the community. I think it will bring jobs. It’s an environment that is very safe. I think people would enjoy it,” said Korky Fritsch who visited the greyhound track on Sunday.

The latest ruling could also affect a $1 billion dollar deal between the state and the Seminole Tribe that gave the tribe exclusive rights to blackjack and the machines.

Officials at the Naples-Fort Myers Track are betting on eventually getting the go ahead but say it will be a while before any final decision is made.

Several other counties in the state have passed referendums similar to the one in Lee and in Gadsden.

The state can appeal the latest ruling.

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Englewood firefighter/EMT remembered

A solemn ceremony remembered the life of Englewood firefighter and EMT Rick Gilbert who died from medical reasons May 24.  Gilbert’s funeral Saturday drew members from area departments including those from Manatee County, Boca Grande, Charlotte County, Fort Myers, North Port, Sarasota County and Lee County.

Rick Gilbert started working for the Englewood Area Fire Control District in January of 2008. He was an extreme sports and martial arts enthusiast.

His peers considered him a true professional. Gilbert comes from a family of firefighters including his dad, three uncles and a younger brother who serves in Austin, Texas.

A memorial fund has been set up for on-line donations at www.youcaring.com/astrid-gilbert-359856

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Water line break prompts boil advisory for Fort Myers apartments

A boil water notice is in effect for the Fort Myers apartment complex Brantley Pines which is located just north of College Parkway and U.S. 41 due to a water main break.

Thousands of gallons of water flowed from the ground after the break. Utility crews had to shut down water for dozens of residents for at least two hours while the shut off the leak and made repairs Saturday evening.

After water service was restored, residents were advised to boil their water as a safety precaution. 

“I’d never had anything like that before to know when I could drink again, shower, go to work again so that would be major concern,” said Roxanne Rosema who lives in Brantley Pines.

The boil water advisory is for their drinking water. The notice is in effect for up to three days.

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Possible funnel cloud in North Naples/Bonita Springs area

A viewers sent us videos of a possible funnel cloud in the North Naples/Bonita Springs area.
We’ve received reports of funnel clouds spotted in the Bonita Springs/North Naples area around 7:20 p.m.   

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Possible funnel cloud in North Naples/Bonita Springs area

Viewers sent us videos of a possible funnel cloud in the North Naples/Bonita Springs area.

We’ve received reports of funnel clouds spotted in the Bonita Springs/North Naples area around 7:20 p.m.   

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Bobcat kitten heading to CROW for rehab

With its mother nowhere in sight, a bobcat kitten was found where a 550-acre brush fire burned near Southwest Florida International Airport off Daniels Parkway on Friday.

That kitten was rescued Friday and set free because wildlife officials were hopeful the mother might return.

On Monday, though, wildlife officials ventured back into the brush to search for the kitten and check on it.

The baby bobcat had not gone far – we are told it was found Monday in the same location where it had been left. It was dehydrated and without its mother – but overall it was in good condition, we are told.

“She probably, just when the fire came rolling through … I’m sure she probably grabbed what kittens she could and hightailed it out of there,” said Mark Criffield with Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC).

Now the kitten is off to the Clinic for the Rehabilitation of Wildlife (CROW) for some rehab. The kitten will be nursed back to health after a rough week, we are told.

Criffield said he is hoping the kitten “gets released into the wild” again.

“It would be a real shame for this little guy to be stuck in captivity for the rest of his life,” said Criffield.

We are told the kitten will be place in a quiet room on Monday night – and is likely to be examined on Tuesday morning.

YOUNG BOBCAT FOUND

Experts on scene told us the bobcat looked out of place Friday.

“I guess you could say it was in distress because it was separated from its family. As far as we can tell, it’s likely that its den got burned over,” said Mark Lotz, biologist with FWC.

Lotz says luckily the kitten was old enough to get to safety.

“It did have a little singeing in its fur, and it did have a little blister on his foot. But it did survive and was just trying to hide in some of the vegetation that hadn’t burned yet,” said Lotz.

According to Lotz, that’s exactly where it should be if it hopes to find mom.

“Chances are the mother is going to come back looking for that kitten,” said Lotz.

A team from FWC checked in on the kitten Saturday morning.

“We went back there. The kitten was still there and calling every so often. So it’s still putting out signals to its mom that she’s still waiting for her,” said Lotz.

Lotz says it’s not uncommon for a bobcat mom to leave kittens for days at a time.