89ºF

Bryceville fire 95% contained, but hot spots continue to pop up

2 homes destroyed, more damaged by 700-acre Nassau County wildfire

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BRYCEVILLE, Fla. – New hot sports were popping Tuesday as the Florida Forest Service continued to monitor what's left of the 700-acre wildfire that forced 150 residents from their homes in western Nassau County. 

As of Tuesday, officials said, the fire that destroyed two home and damaged others in Bryceville was 95 percent contained.

But forestry officials said they're stilled worried about flare ups due to the heat and dry conditions.

Crews were watching wooded areas Tuesday, dousing any hot spots that occurred with a little bit of water. They had not encountered any major problems at last check.

Nassau County Emergency Management said 2,000 gallons of water were used on Monday to "mop up" anything smoldering. 

Damage estimates from last week's fire are not yet available because assessment crews are still looking to see what exactly burned and what the cost will be. They are expected to release that number by the end of the week or next week. 

Paul Megois, who lived in one of the two homes that were destroyed in the fire Wednesday night, was able to salvage only a few mementos, but he took away something very important.

"It's been phenomenal -- community, friends, family, strangers walking up to me. The outpouring of support has been the grace of God," Megois said. 

Megois said what's left of his home on County Road 119 will be torn down, but he's ready to rebuild because he wants to stay in Brycevill. 

"It's coming along for us. There are some roadblocks for us, but there are some folks with nothing at all," he said.

Both forestry officials and Megois said they will be keeping a close eye out for flare-ups. 

"There are still a lot of areas that aren't burned that could still flare up. It's in the back of my mind," Megois said. 

Crews will be working until the blaze is completely out, forestry officials said.

The evacuation order that forced residents from their homes overnight was lifted Thursday afternoon as state and local crews continued to battle the wildfire, which destroyed two homes, damaged eight others and burned 19 barns, sheds or other structures.

WATCH: Sky 4 surveys nearly 700 acres burned | Aerial footage

Officials said the wildfire began on Willis Road, where a fire started by a man burning boxes of books blew out of control. Officials said he will be cited with illegal burning of household waste and will be sent a bill for the cost of fighting the fire.

Firefighters have been adding water to the dirt, creating a mud-like substance, as they dig around the trees, "mopping up" anything smoldering. If the winds and humidity continue to pick up, officials said, that could bring more trouble. If not, they could finish in a few weeks.

The Bryceville fire isn't the only one in the area. There are nine fires that were burning, covering more than 1,800 acres, as of Tuesday. Annaleasa Winter of Florida Forest Service said that even though there are nine active fires, they're not out of control.

She said all fires are considered active until they're completely out and have no smoke coming from them. One near Lenox Road is contained, Winter said.

If you're concerned about wildfires, the Florida Forest Service does home wildfire hazard assessments and can talk to your community group. The number to call is 904-266-8362.


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