Shelters open for people, pets fleeing fire

BRYCEVILLE, Fla. – As state Forestry crews and firefighters from Nassau and Duval counties battle a growing wildfire in northwest Nassau County, two churches have opened as shelters for residents ordered to evacuate.

The Northeast Florida American Red Cross set up an official shelter for displaced residents at Bryceville Baptist Church, which is located at 7732 U.S. Highway 301. News4Jax was told that the church could handle 60-80 people. The number for the church is 904-266-4169.

"We have a couple that think they lost some livestock. We have some who have their house right in the venue of where the fire was going. We have a family from our church that was here because it was within a mile of the house and they were made to get out," Pastor Terry Terby said. "They're scared, and they're apprehensive."

Callahan First Baptist at 45090 Green Avenue is on standby to open as a shelter for people in need.

The Red Cross will provide cots and blankets at First Baptist and some food and water, but people expecting to spend the night in a shelter should bring more food, water, any needed medications, a chance of clothes and books, games or other things to do to pass the time.

MORE: What to bring with you to a shelter
Nassau County Emergency: 904-548-0900

Red Cross spokeswoman Christian Smith said they never know exactly how many people will need sheltering, but they are prepared. They also provide snacks and water for the firefighters.

"Right now, we're supporting the firemen and then assessing what the needs of the community are going to be," Smith said.

Because the area under evacuation is rural, many of the residents are leaving with their animals. Area businesses and ranches are offering to help:

Diamond D. Ranch at 5903-1 Solomon Road and Walker Quarter Horse Farm at 14452 Normandy Blvd. have also offered to shelter horses and livestock that were evacuated.

Anyone who would like to bring animals to Diamond D. Ranch can call 904-591-3289 overnight until 8 a.m. After 8 a.m., call 904-289-9331.

Country Affair Arabians in Keystone Heights is offering to shelter horses that were in the evacuation area. Contact number is 352-478-1857.

Three Oaks Farm in Brunswick has also offered to shelter horses for free and provide evaluations. Call Tommie Crum at 912-269-0623.

The Northeast Florida Fairgrounds at 543378 U.S. 1 in Callahan has also opened for the evacuation of livestock. Any rescued loose or stray animals can be taken to the fairgrounds. 

All Paws Pet Boarding and Day Care at 8356 U.S. Highway 301 in Bryceville said everyone was safe at the kennel and an evacuation plan is in place if need be. Anyone seeking information can call 904-266-0010.

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