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Flagler Fires: New 70-Acre Blaze Northwest of Palm Coast, 3 in Southwest, Espanola Billows

| June 8, 2011

Those aren;t clouds: billows from the Espanola fire, now approaching 2,000 acres, as seen in late afternoon Wednesday, west of U.S. 1. (© FlaglerLive)

At midday Wednesday, the Espanola fire, some eight miles west of the city as the crow flies, looked as if it was billowing at the western edge of Palm Coast Parkway, just beyond U.S. 1: gray-white heaves of smoke rising in enormous columns looked that close–or looked to some as if a new fire had started closer to the city.

One did, but later in the day, and not that close: in late afternoon, a new wildfire broke out in an inaccessible portion of forest about a mile west of U.S. 1, just south of the Flagler-St. Johns County line, south of County Road 204. Firefighters needed help from the county’s Fire Flight helicopter to wend their way toward the blaze to dig lines around it and contain it. They did so by way of Hargrove Grade before taking a 15-minute ride in, according to Mike Beadle, Palm Coast’s fire chief.

By sundown the fire had burned some 30 acres but Beadle said it was contained. Crews would be out there until 9 or 10 p.m tonight, then back out in the morning. Wildfires in this region have tended to calm down during the night as heavy humidity lowers their intensity. As the humidity lifts in the morning, so do the fires.

St. Johns County and Bunnell crews also helped on that new fire.

Palm Coast crews have also been mopping up the White Eagle fire, which is still producing hot spots. “Staffing levels are up and crews are working 12-hour shifts,” Beadle said of the Palm Coast Fire Department. “Guys and gals are doing a phenomenal job.” There are 58 city firefighters and 20 to 25 volunteer firefighters on the Palm Coast side. The county has more than 70.

The Espanola fire’s breadth wasn’t an illusion. “It ran pretty good today, it’s up to John Campbell Drive,” Flagler Fire Chief Don Petito said. “That thing is huge now.”

John Campbell Drive is not far from Crescent Lake. The fire had grown to 1,700 acres by Wednesday morning. It was likely quite larger than that by evening, Petito said, though he hadn’t received an acreage update yet. But easterly winds were continuing to push that fire to the west, shielding Bunnell, Palm Coast and Flagler Beach residents from the smell of smoke.

There are three new fires in the southwestern end of the county, two of them having broken out on Monday evening north of County Road 305. They’re the Strawn I and Strawn II fires. The first had grown to 75 acres by this morning and grew bigger during the day. The second is about 11 acres. The Tattoo West fire is the third one, west of State Road 11 before it hits the Volusia County line.

That’s in addition to a half dozen other fires the county is battling in smaller spots–Yelvington, Dog Pen, Spalding, Old Brick Road.

“We’ve been running around like chickens without heads,” Petito said.

The silver lining: for all that, the county has yet to lose a single structure or record a single fire-related injury. And Flagler is not Arizona.

The fire northwest of Palm Coast Wednesday evening, winds pushing it west. Click on the image for larger view. (© FlaglerLive)

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8 Responses for “Flagler Fires: New 70-Acre Blaze Northwest of Palm Coast, 3 in Southwest, Espanola Billows”

  1. Janey says:

    My salute to all those fighting the fires and keeping us safe! God bless those working hard!

  2. been there says:

    Could someone please do a map?

  3. Happening now says:

    Our Governor has the authority to ask for help from the military for the fires. Will he or won’t he?

  4. Laura says:

    been there says:
    This is the map I refer to.
    You can zoom in to see a specific area.

    {{* *}}

  5. palmcoaster says:

    Can’t be more appreciative of our firefighters efforts to contain this fire. I remember in 1998 we stood in the corner of Matanzas Parkway and US 1 for days staring at a fire slowly advancing from the open inhabitated lands west and we waited and waited until arrived alongside Rte 1 and …jumped over into our residential Matanzas Woods. We then were evacuated and remember leaving our sprinklers running
    after hosing down our brand new home while blessing our brave firefighters battling the flames. The fire wind (firestorm) created by the heat approaching was incredible. After two days of evacuation we were allowed back and the destruction was pathetic, some homes were charred to little left. We were the lucky one’s with ours as the heat had blacken the one side and twisted our gutters affecting also ornamentals and the lawn in our yard but could not burn the house down.. The fire department work hard to protect our homes. I think the sprinkler running and our house hose down helped as well.
    So all in Matanzas Woods and east of it better keep a close eye west of you over this fire. Late awakening could be harsh. Better watch it! I do not reside in that area now. Please if an emergency arises …take your pets along as they are also family. Have a travel kit (cage, holding pen) food and water ready to take with them on a hurry. Some pets were left behind in 1998 and died.
    I remember we took the Palm Coast Parkway east and got all stuck waiting for bottled traffic in the Hammock Dunes bridge to escape to A1A. Looking thru our rear view mirror and on the I95 overpass in traffic, the sky was read with the flames reflection and smoke west of us in Rte1. We were all in our SUV; family, our comfortable caged pets their food, water and all sensitive documents including our insurance policies.
    The flames never affected any section of the Palm Coast Parkway, but in some areas the wind blown embers created fires along the intracoastal and east of it. We were ready to leave our welcoming friends home in the barrier island if situation will get worst as smoke was stingy at times. So all palmcoasters be very alert of these fires. No joke here, ask Palm Coast Fire Department Chief Mike Beadle, if I am hard to believe.

  6. Melissa Gilpatrick says:

    To all Firefighters out there working LONG hours and risking their lives to keep up safe under those dangerous conditions… We Thank You!!
    I know its hard for all of the families of these Brave and determined Men and Women out there not only worrying about their safety but being away from their loved ones for such a long time!
    These Firefighters Love what they do!! And we are fortunate to have such courages Men and Women here in Flagler County!!!! God Be With All You Firefighters and your families. Be Safe out there Guys!!

  7. Well... says:

    98 happened and it can happen again. There is nothing that can be done about drought, wind and perfect conditions for fire. The only thing people can do is be vigilant, have important items in one place that is easy to grab, have an emergency kit with medical supplies, and have nonperishable food items in the event of an emergency departure. Do not try to be a hero and stay behind if the fire is approaching, you will only be placing the life of a true hero in peril as he/she attempts to come in and save you when the flames are bearing down. If you have animals take them with you, they feel pain and fear. If they are tied up, untie them, they are smart enough to run away from danger, unlike people that like to flock to it, to stare and watch as danger approaches. I am ready if a fire ever comes close to my home. I have an emergency kit, a box of nonperishable food items, my important papers and medicines in an accessible location. Be smart, be prepared and be mindful of the situation, that is all that can really be done.

  8. Someone Else says:

    It happened in 85, it happened in 98 and if the winds change before we get a lot of rain it could very well happen now.
    I guess these things just happen every 13 years, when the vegetation grows back from the last fires and it gets dry enough.

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