Orange, Lake County residents claims thick smoke invading their homes could be caused by new development
CENTRAL FLORIDA - A group of neighbors living near the Lake County and Orange County line says they’ve been dealing with excessive smoke for months, and it’s only getting worse.
They believe nearby development might be to blame.
A video taken by one neighbor shows the smoke flowing into his backyard.
They say Thursday was one of the worst days they’ve seen.
"Every morning, I’ll come out and take the boys for a walk, and it’s just a big puff of smoke in your face, and it’s not comfortable to breathe in," said Daren Steger.
Steger worries about his family’s health.
"It makes me nervous because sometimes we won’t even go outside if it’s so strong," Steger said.
Another neighbor, who didn’t want to use his last name, says he even felt the smoke while he was inside his house and resorted to wearing a mask inside.
"You usually go into your house as being a safe haven, and that was not the case yesterday," he said.
FOX 35 started digging into the issue to get answers.
There are several burns in the area.
But neighbors in the Serenoa Lakes community think a development being built nearby is to blame since it’s the closest.
About a mile away, FOX 35 found large piles of debris, still smoking, at the development.
The Florida Forest Service says it stopped by the spot on Friday and says the landowner was following all regulations.
According to the department’s guidelines, open burning of land-clearing debris is allowed if the burn happens between the hours of 9 a.m. and one hour before sunset and if the location of the burn is set back at least 1,000 feet from any occupied building and 100 feet from a paved public roadway.
It’s unclear how much longer people in the neighborhood could be experiencing the smoke.
FOX 35 reached out to the developer to ask about it and has not heard back.
It’s hard to know for sure if that fire is the only cause for the smoke, since there are others in the area, and smoke from a wildfire or prescribed burn can travel long distances.
The forest service says the development was authorized to burn on Thursday when neighbors say the smoke was the worst.