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Lightning strikes spark fires in St. Johns County

Flames in Nocatee come within 20 feet of homes; smoke warning signs posted

ST. JOHNS COUNTY, Fla. – Firefighters battled two brush fires started by lightning strikes in St. Johns County early Monday morning, and another wildfire in Nocatee came within 20 feet of a home Monday afternoon, according to forestry officials.

The extremely hot and dry conditions, combined with lightning from thunderstorms, continue to fuel wildfires in Northeast Florida.

The latest count has Florida Forest Service personnel monitoring 49 local fires, 11 of them sparked since Friday. Many of the fires are in Baker, Clay and Duval counties.

In St. Johns County, firefighters battled three fires that started within hours of each other.
The first fire started off Interstate 95, just south of State Road 206 in Hastings. The fire started directly across the highway from the rest area on the southbound side.

The second fire started off Godwin Road near U.S. 1 in St. Augustine. The Florida Highway Patrol, the Florida Forest Service and the Department of Transportation are monitoring the fire, which at one point grew to 8 acres.

Mokhtar Bouamrane said he called 911 after he saw flames less than a mile from his home.

"I saw a ball of flame coming up. Then I woke up my wife and after that I took the car and drove to U.S. 1 and then I saw the real fire," Bouamrane said. "I came back and called 911."

Firefighters set up a fire line to make sure it didn't get out of hand.

"It was going fast," Bouamrane said. "It was high. Higher than the tree, about 40 feet in the air."

Both of those fires have been contained and officials said the flames are not threatening any homes. But light smoke may still be visible in the area. Smoke warning signs have been placed in the area, and travelers are urged to use caution if they travel in the area because of possible smoke hazards.

The most recent St. Johns County Fire started in Nocatee just before 2 p.m. Monday near Blue Water Drive and Cape May Avenue.

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A fire line has been set up to protect homes, which were within 20 feet of the wildfire at one point.

"The fire people were here very quickly, so I didn't think we were in trouble, but it is rather close," Betty Thompson said. "Of course, we don't want to lose our homes. I have to have faith in the fire department."

Senior forester Greg Dunn said crews normally work 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. and then are on call. He said some could now be working up to 16 hours. During a bad stretch in 1998, crews had to work 24 hours straight, he said.

"It's been dry for so long. We get the lightning strikes. Yes, some rain comes with it, but not enough to actually put out the flames," Dunn said. "The dry fuels and the strong winds and the low humidity allowed it to dry out and get the fire started up again."

Another Nocatee fire has also sprung up near Preservation Trail and Ranch Road, officials said. Smoke started showing in that area around 1 p.m. Monday. No homes are threatened with that fire, which officials believe was also sparked by lightning.

People in the area are being told not to burn outdoors and to use caution when putting out cigarettes. 

Current Active Wildfires in Northeast Florida

Start Date

County

Fire Name

Location

Acres

Fire Cause

Containment

Comments

6/17/15

Baker

Mutual Aid USFS

Two fires off CR250 half mile north of US 90 – they are 3 miles apart

65

100

Lightning

Osceola National Forest has 2 fires near the battlefield east of Ocean Pond –fire lines around them but need to burnout vegetation inside lines

6/18/15

Baker

Mutual Aid USFS

Forest Road 202, ½ mile from Doyle Williams Road

5

Lightning

100%

Osceola National Forest

5/11/15

Clay

Wheeler Branch

Jennings State Forest

50

Authorized Burn

100%

Still smoking

6/14/15

Clay

Fleming Island

Half mile south of CR220 and half mile west of Hwy 17

8

Undetermined

100%

Still smoking- received 0.5" rainfall

6/18/15

Clay

Warner Road

Warner Road and Sungarden Road

3.5

Lightning

100%

Put 1,800 gal water – still smoking

6/19/15

Clay

Craven

Craven Road, south of Spring bank Rd

7.2

Lightning

100%

Put 75 gal water- still smoking

6/20/15

Clay

Cheswick

Argyle Forest Blvd and Cheswick

2.5

Lightning

100%

No smoke showing

6/21/15

Clay

Rattlesnake Road

On Jennings State Forest at Bell Cemetery Road

0.1

90%

Crews are on scene

6/21/15

Clay

Sand Hill

Rosemary Hill Road, 2.5 mi east of CR 218

5

Lightning

100%

Contained at 4:30 pm on 6-21

6/18/15

Duval

Golf Course

Timucuana Road east to Fair Lane Drive

4

Lightning

100%

Put 150 gal water – no smoke showing

6/18/15

Duval

NAS Wannamacher

NAS Jax on southern perimeter

8.1

Lightning

100%

Put 4,500 gal water – continue to monitor

6/18/15

Duval

Acree Road

Plummer Road to Acree on Thomas Creek Tract of Cary State Forest

19.1

Lightning

100%

Smoking in the duff- continue to monitor

6/9/15

Duval

Sandhill

East of Phillips Hwy and north of Nocatee Pkwy

1

Lightning

100%

Still some interior smoke- put 300 gal water

6/10/15

Duval

San Pablo #1

1.75 miles south of JTB and 3 miles east of I295

15

Lightning

100%

Continue to monitor

6/12/15

Duval

San Pablo #2

1.75 miles south of JTB and 3 miles east of I295

48

Lightning

100%

Put 250 gal water – still smoking -continue to monitor

6/15/15

Duval

Island #1

11,000 block of New Berlin Road at Island Dr.

1.8

Lightning

100%

Continue to monitor

6/19/15

Duval

Yellow Water Road

On Yellow Water- 1.5 miles south of I-10

7

Lightning

100%

Still smoking

6/21/15

Duval

Atlantic Blvd

Atlantic and Kernan Blvd.

2

Lightning

100%

Contained at 1:21 am on 6/22

6/21/15

Duval

Island 2

11201 New Berlin Road

15

Lightning

100%

Contained at 4:10 am on 6/22- mopping up today

6/22/15

Duval

0295

Hodges

0.5

Lightning

Crew arrived

6/22/15

Duval

0296

Hodges

1

Lightning

Crew arrived

6/22/15

Duval

0297

Black Hammock Island east of Shark Rd and south of Franderson

0.5

Behind athletic field – crew arrived making access

6/1915

Nassau

Ford Road

US 301 and Ford Road

1.3

Lightning

100%

Still smoking in the duff- continue to monitor

6/13/15

Putnam

Old Buck Springs

100 block of Buck Springs Rd 2 miles west of 309D

51

Lightning

100%

Continue to monitor

6/14/15

Putnam

Yelvington

Yelvington Rd, 4 miles east of  hwy17

10

Equipment

100%

Still smoking on interior- continue to monitor

6/14/15

Putnam

Middle Road

Middle Road, 4 miles west of Hwy 17

25

Lightning

100%

Continue to monitor – put 350 gal water

6/18/15

Putnam

Turkey

Interhachen, 1.5 mil east of 315

1

Lightning

100%

Smoking heavily

6/19/15

Putnam

Brahma

CR 315 to Blueberry

2

Lightning

100%

6/20/15

Putnam

North Manning Road

West of Barton Road

1.5

100%

Put 50 gal water- still smoking

6/20/15

Putnam

Soggy Bottom

1 mile east of Bardin Road on Fawn Trail

1

Lightning

90%

Smoking heavily

6/21/15

Putnam

My Cousin

Cousin Town Road off CR 315

0.5

Lightning

100%

Still Smoking

6/22/15

Putnam

Cabbage Creek

East of Cousin town Road and north of CR 513

0.5

Lightning

100%

6/22/15

Putnam

Finley

West of 21, Hankley Lake Trail and Finley Lane

1.5

Debris burn

100%

NOV issued

5/21/15

St Johns

Creek Side

North of 210 and west of 2209

56.7

Lightning

75%

Put 5,300 gal water

5/28/15

St Johns

12-Mile Swamp

Quarter mile west of US 1 and 2 miles north of International Golf Pkwy

38.8

Undetermined

Under investigation

100%

Continue to monitor – one large hot spot remains

6/9/15

St Johns

GP

I-95 and SR 207

3.5

Lightning

100%

Put 60 gal water- 3 hot spots remain

6/13/15

St Johns

River Town

3000 block of SR 13 near ball fields

84

Lightning

95%

Put 100 gal water- still smoking - continue to mop up and monitor

6/13/15

St Johns

Bombing Range

Greenbriar, east of Colony Subdivision

30

Lightning

90%

Put 300 gal water- still smoking continue to monitor

6/16/15

St Johns

Sanksville

7500 block of CR208

2.5

Undetermined

80%

Light smoke - continue to monitor

6/19/15

St Johns

Racetrack Road

2952 Racetrack Road

0.1

Lightning

100%

No smoke showing

6/19/15

St Johns

Flower of Scotland

160 Flower of Scotland Ave

0.1

Lightning

90%

Still hot and burning – continue to mop up and monitor

6/21/15

St Johns

South 204

1 mile east of Old Brick Road

1.7

Lightning

100%

FFS helo dropped 3 buckets of water

6/21/15

St Johns

Gander

East of the Outlet mall, north of Inman

2

Lightning

100%

6/21/15

St Johns

Irish Acres

SR 207 and Twin  Lakes Dr

5

Lightning

100%

6/22/15

St Johns

Godwin

825 Godwin Road

7.3

Lightning

100%

Heavy smoke on US 1 this morning

6/22/15

St Johns

Palm Island

2 miles east of US 1 , 1.5 mile north of  Pine Island Rd in Nocatee

5

Lightning

90%

Crews released

6/22/15

St Johns

Unknown

1 mile east of US 1 and 1.5 miles north of Pine Island Road in Nocatee

5

Trying to make access

6/22/15

St Johns

206

3 mi South of SR 206 and .5 mi east of I-95

13.1

100% at 3:33pm

Smoke signs in I-95

6/22/15

St Johns

Campbell

Campbell Lane off Johnson Lake

0.1

Lightning

100%

Fire is knocked down tractor is staring to plow lines