Last Updated: 9:16 p.m.
County, city and state firefighters are having another busy day fighting five brush and forest fires across Flagler County. Two large fires—the White Eagle Fire near U.S. 1 and County Road 335 and the fire west of Espanola, now at 335 acres, refuse to be controlled, and are drawing the lion share of attention from a combination of ground and air crews. The Division of Forestry sent in an additional strike team of engines on the Espanola fire, which relieved pressure on local firefighters.
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The White Eagle fire blazed up again this morning, requiring a return of three helicopters and numerous fire crews from the county, Palm Coast, Flagler Beach and the Division of Forestry. That fire, which came close to homes along CR335 on Tuesday, did so again on Wednesday but no evacuations proved necessary, and US1 remained open throughout the day, though the fire is producing thick, drifting smoke. Firefighters, Petito said, “are still trying to contain it.”
At close to 8 p.m. tonight, firefighters at the scene of the White Eagle fire were reporting that the fire was showing renewed activity, though to what extent was unclear. After 8:30 p.m., a fireman was reporting one area of the fire getting very active some 30 yards away from a house with a swimming pool. A bulldozer was sent in to dig new firelines.
At 9 p.m., yet another fire in the area, the size of a bonfire, was reported right behind the White Eagle Saloon. That proved none too serious. Several units were being released for the night after 9 p.m.
The White Eagle Fire has grown to 60 acres, Petito said late Wednesday afternoon. (A county press release Wednesday afternoon put the acreage at 20. That figure was closer to Tuesday’s acreage.)
And the wind is playing havoc with it: it’s swirling in various directions, even though, generally speaking, the wind took a more northerly direction today, after blowing toward the west on Tuesday.
One reason for the fire’s persistence: it is located in a swampy area of thick cypress trees, which prevent Division of Forestry bulldozers from going in and cutting fire lines, or firebreaks.
Despite the number of blazes, there’s been no injuries and no damage to any structures, except for a single, abandoned dog pen deep inside the Espanola woods. “That’s the good thing. No injuries, firefighters or civilians,” Flagler County Fire Chief Don Petito said.
But crews are getting weary. They’re putting in long, successive shifts, then being sent home for 36-hour rest before returning to the lines.
The weather did not help. White Wednesday’s high humidity may have dampened the fires’ enthusiasm, threatening skies never opened with much-needed rain. Most of that precipitation was to the south. “The White Eagle Fire, that got a very short burst of rain. I think I counted three drops on my windshield,” Petito said.
Some 56 fires are burning between Flagler and Volusia Counties, including five major ones in Flagler and nine minor ones. Aside from the White Eagle and Espanola fires, here’s a list as provided by the county:
County Line Fire: north of S.R.100 near the Flagler Putnam County line, fraction of an acre, contained. It’s being monitored.
Strickland Fire: west of US1, 7 acres, contained. Division of Forestry and Bunnell Fire Department mopping up.
City Plaza Fire: south of Royal Palms Parkway and west of Old Kings Road, fraction of an acre, contained by the Division of Forestry and the Palm Coast Fire Department.
Yelvington Fire: north of S.R.100 near the Flagler -Putnam County line, 15 acres or so, contained by the Division of Forestry and Flagler County Fire.
Big Curve 205: west of Espanola and north of County Road 205, a fraction of an acre, contained.
Durrance Lane, in Hunter’s Ridge area: west of I-95, 7.8 acres, contained by the Division of Forestry and Flagler County Fire.
Bunnell Feed Fire: reported on May 27, just north of downtown Bunnell, a fraction of an acre, contained.
Dorena Grade Fire: east of Espanola and just north of Otis Stone Hunter Road, 14 acres, contained. Division of Forestry and Palm Coast Fire Department monitoring.
Haw Creek Fire, first reported on May 19: south of County Road 2006 and east of Dead Lake, just under 1 acre, contained, with the Division of Forestry and Flagler County Fire monitoring.
Dog Pen Fire, first reported May 15: west of U.S. 1, north of S.R. 100, 58 acres, contained. Division of Forestry and Flagler County Fire Rescue mopping up.
Spalding Fire, reported May 15: north of S.R. 100 and west of Bunnell, 4 acres, contained.
Powerline #2 Fire: reported May 8, south of Bunnell and east of S.R. 11, 21 acres, only 50 percent contained. Division of Forestry, Bunnell Fire Department and Flagler County Fire monitoring.