ST. JOHNS COUNTY, Fla. – A prescribed burn got out of control and turned into a brush fire Tuesday night in a wooded area near the World Golf Village, the St. Johns County Sheriff's Office said.
Fire crews worked through the night to subdue the flames and had the fire under control on Wednesday.
Deputies and St. Johns County Fire Rescue were called about 9 p.m. Tuesday to the large fire in the new Markland subdivision off International Golf Parkway near Interstate 95.
The big bright flames in the back part of the subdivision had neighbors on high alert.
“(It was) over four stories high,” resident Joyce Randall said. “It was pretty big.”
The fire started as a burn pile after developers got clearance to make way for more homes, forestry officials said.
“The land clearing (crews) will come in and do the clearing and then they will call forestry to get a permit,” said Gary Carpenter of St. Johns County Forestry. “Forestry will come out to see if it passes all rules and regulations. If it does, we will issue a permit.”
In this case, developers got permission from the county's forestry department to start the burn pile, but they didn't put out all hotspots before leaving the pile unattended, forestry officials said.
Forestry experts said flames spread because of winds on Tuesday night.
“It should have been no problem, but what happened is you start to get these fissures, you see, as it burns down, and as you can see, it's still smoking,” Carpenter said.
Deputies said the fire was under control as of 10:30 p.m. Tuesday, but the fire was still burning at 7 a.m. Wednesday.
No injuries were reported and no structures were damaged, the Sheriff's Office said.
There are a total of 13 active wildfires in Northeast Florida, from Baker to St. Johns counties.
“If you're thinking about burning outdoors this weekend, the forestry experts are telling me, it's not a good idea because of the wind,” meteorologist Rebecca Barry said.