In a tour of the forest partly charred in last week’s fire south of Bunnell, Florida Forest Service officials cautioned of a fire season ahead they expect will be more active because of drought and higher temperatures.
The fire had burned into the eaves of the house at 7 Sellner Place when firefighters arrived, positioned themselves between it and the house, and beat it back this afternoon. The fire burned the entire neighboring, empty lot.
The fire between Mother Seton Catholic church and Cypress Point Parkway started at 4 .m. and burned close to 10 acres. Division of Forestry crews were burning more ground this morning on purpose, to prevent flare-ups. A section of Cypress Point Parkway was closed.
A small fire that started in the backyard of a house on Holly Lane rapidly spotted and triggered another fast-moving fire that snaked its way across two blocks, forcing the evacuation of 10 to 15 houses in the area.
Recalling memories of last year’s feverish fire season, Flagler County Fire Chief Don Petito just signed an order imposing a burn ban, while the county’s fire rescue department takes in 50 new radios that will vastly improve their communications abilities with other emergency responders.
The fires signal the danger of somewhat dry conditions as lightning-rich storms keep rolling through. There are no plans to re-institute a burn ban in Flagler for now.
The still-rising costs don’t help the county’s budget, which is acing a $5.5 million revenue loss from dropping property values. Gov. Scott could have minimized the impact, but he refused to ask for a federal emergency declaration, though previous, lesser fires had gotten such a declaration.
Some 2.7 inches of rain fell in the Bunnell area, flooding streets and swales, but the Espanola fire got much less, if any, and fire officials are saying that the county is not out of the danger zone yet.
The four new lightning-triggered fires declared themselves between 2 and 4 p.m. Saturday afternoon, including one in Favoretta and one across from Shell Bluff, on State Road 100, with more lightning and fires expected today.
Flagler County rallied with donations for its firefighters this month from individuals young and old, companies, churches, schools, political parties and others, whose generosity helped eased stresses of heat and overwork.