New sod on causeway might be cursed by the fire gods (or grown by aliens), ambulance responds to two envenomation calls

July 23, 2021
By Staff Report

If you wear white to a party, you’re bound to spill wine on your shirt. If you buy a brand-new car, you’re bound to get a door ding within the first week. But who knew that if you put down some nice, lush, green sod on the Boca Grande Causeway it would catch all kinds of Karma, including strange “alien” patches of light and dark coloring, and fire damage?

It was barely more than two weeks ago when we saw the large mounds of dark topsoil along the sides of the causeway, looking somewhat like giant molehills. Just days later we saw landscaping crews placing new squares of healthy sod over the freshly leveled dirt. It seemed like in a short period of time we would be seeing a fresh new look on the road we travel to and from the island each day. But after the last week the “new look” the sod has now isn’t exactly healthy.

The weirdness started on Sunday, July 18 at approximately 1:40 p.m. An SUV that was on the causeway experienced what a 911 caller thought was an engine fire, so fire trucks from Boca Grande and Englewood/Grove City responded. What they found was a vehicle with the brake calipers locked up, smoking.

That wasn’t the weird part of the story. That part comes next.

Just as traffic was backing up due to the emergency response vehicles and the potential fire, the swing bridge opened for boat traffic. According to Gasparilla Island Bridge Authority Executive Director Kathy Banson-Verrico, at the end of the opening/closing cycle a censor under the bridge decided go haywire. It took about 25 minutes for the bridge safety arms to go up (there was a maintenance man underneath the bridge getting it checked out, on top of the time that vehicles had been waiting while the bridge was open.

So, while it looked like the bridge was closed to vehicle traffic because of a non-existent care fire, it was really closed because it decided to be squirrely.

But wait, there’s more.

On Tuesday, July 20 at approximately 2 p.m. the Boca Grande Fire Department was called to the 6000 block of the Boca Grande Causeway for a “vegetation/brush/grass fire.” The call for service said the 911 caller stated there was a “line of small fires” along the road.

On arrival firefighters found small fires along the road in a strange pattern: Some patches of sod were burned, others were pristine. The fire was quickly extinguished and was strongly believed to be caused by a cigarette butt flicked out of a car window. but it still puzzled everyone involved as to why the burn patterns were so precise. Some speculate that not all of the patches of sod were created equal, and the fire jumped to those patches that were easier to burn, propelled by the airflow created by passing cars. Or perhaps the cigarette rolled parallel along the sod, only lighting the driest sections.

Or maybe it was sun flares, or maybe alien sod. Who knows.

In other fire and EMS news, on Saturday, July 17 at approximately 11:40 p.m. the fire department was called out to one of the cabins on Cayo Costa for a 4-year-old patient who, according to the caller, was “bitten on the back by an animal.” When firefighters arrive by boat to the island, they were told the boy was fine, but they checked him out just the same. The source of his pain appeared to possibly be from insects.

On Friday, July 16 at approximately 11:46 a.m. an emergency call came in from the 5th Street beach access for a female who appeared to be having an allergic reaction to a jellyfish sting to her leg. She ended up being treated on the scene and no transport was needed.