It could have been a very bad situation behind Mangorita’s Restaurant on Fort Myers Beach Tuesday morning if the fire the homeless man is accused of starting to keep warm reached the other side of the hallway, which is all wood.
Normally the beach is a warm place for those without a home to stay but temperatures have been dropping in recent days with even colder temperatures coming this weekend. Cardboard boxes behind a closed business were the perfect opportunity for someone cold and homeless to huddle in a hallway.
As you can see from the picture to the right, the fire caused extensive damage to the walk-in cooler which is located just outside the back door of the restaurant. If the fire moved about 5 feet we may have been writing about something completely different today.
Police did find the man who set the fire and questioned him. He was not charged. The owners of Mangorita’s tell us something needs to be done about the homeless problem on the beach and they were lucky they didn’t lose everything. “There’s zero consequences for their actions. It’s just going to continue.”
There has been quite a bit of debate about the homeless in all of Lee County as of late. Planned renovations to a downtown Fort Myers park pushed many homeless who stayed at the park to find other places to live. The county has been holding community meetings to try to find a solution.
In October, a new county wide program to help the growing Lee County homeless population was announced. Five Homeless Outreach Teams have been tasked with interacting with the homeless population to find out what their needs are. The teams are made up of a crisis intervention deputy, a trained civilian and a mental health professional provided by the county. It’s unclear if one of these teams has been to the beach yet.
The homeless situation also comes up, from time-to-time, on the beach as well. Some say the beach has a homless problem while others don’t. Back in October, the homeless issue was at the top of your list of public safety concerns. Beach resident Suzi Bahan, now a member of the Public Safety Committee, told us ” that the homeless situation on Fort Myers Beach is bad and needs to be addressed. “