Recent drought conditions and impacts to the travel industry from the COVID-19 Pandemic are partly to blame for a massive fire that burned more than 3,500 cars at Florida’s Fort Meyers Airport, also known by its airport code, RSW. Authorities report that 3,516 rental cars that were stored in an overflow parking lot near the Terminal Access Road were badly damaged or destroyed. The fire started on Friday; by Saturday, fire officials said the fire was out after inspecting the area for lingering hot-spots.
With shelter-in-place orders and tourists gone, airport rental car agencies are struggling to store excess rental cars that would otherwise be rented out. In the case of the rental cars at Fort Meyers Airport, stores were kept in an open grassy field away from the rental complex.
Vicki Moreland, communications director for the airport, told reporters that while more than 3,500 cars were lost, at least 3,800 cars in the lot were not burned. She said the cause of the fire is being investigated by the State Fire Marshal.
While the State Fire Marshal will hunt for the exact cause of the fire, conditions have been exceptionally dry with weather conditions ripe for fire weather. According to the latest Drought Monitor update, much of Florida, including the Fort Meyers area, is experiencing moderate drought conditions. A large volume of cars with gas and oil parked tightly together and extremely dry grass conditions likely contributed to the intensity of the fire.