At one point Monday evening flames rose 70 feet and burned over 9 acres at the construction and debris dump owned by Darrell Cone Dozer Services Inc. of Bunnell. The property, at 449 County Road 304, is surrounded by a Strickland sod farm, not far from a sod farm, at 443 County Road 304.
The fire is consuming tree stumps, mulch and related debris, and will continue burning at a lesser intensity, Flagler County Fire Chief Don Petito said, but it is not a danger to surrounding lands or properties, and it is no longer the responsibility of local fire departments or the Division of Forestry. Officials told the landowners that it was now their responsibility—that is, the landowners’— to break up and eliminate the fire.
“The fire is contained to the pile, there’s no threat of it spreading or anything like that, so the major impact to the community is the smoke,” Petito said. “I went and checked it late this afternoon and it’s still burning. The owner of the property was out there with some heavy equipment trying to break the pile apart but that could take a while to do. The whole thing was on fire overnight. We don’t know what started it.”
Dense smoke wafted over areas of I-95 and U.S. 1 Monday morning, alarming drivers and residents. But that’s likely to happen again tonight and early Wednesday morning, and possibly the rest of the week—and through the month.
“The biggest problem we have is the smoke it creates at night combined with the high humidity, the fog,” Petito said. “The smoke layer lays down and combines with the fog so it creates a visibility problem.”
According to school officials, the smoke combined with fog made it difficult for Flagler Palm Coast High School students to make it safely inside the high school on Tuesday morning. The dense smoke along with the fog also affected travel in the southern areas of Palm Coast. No accidents or injuries were reported as a result of the low visibility.
Flagler County Fire Rescue had four engines on the fire overnight, and the Bunnell Volunteer Fire Department sent one engine, but all units left the fire this morning.
FHP and other law enforcement agencies will be monitoring the situation and if conditions require, may close affected roads. Motorists are advised to avoid the area if possible and use caution when driving in areas affected by the smoke. The Jacksonville National Weather Service station told emergency officials that winds would be calm in the next day or two, further reducing any alarm over the fire.
The Flagler Beach administration issued an advisory late Tuesday afternoon cautioning that traffic issues may arise in the city. Residents may contact Fire Captain Robert Pace at 517-2010 or Police Captain Matt Doughney at 517-2020 with any issues.
[Note: the article reflects a correction from an earlier version, which had placed the fire on the Strickland property rather than on the Cone property. The Flagler County administration had issued the erroneous address of the property where the dump is located.]