Brush fire south of Pomona Park damages home, forces evacuations

5-acre fire 80% contained at last check, forestry officials say

PUTNAM COUNTY, Fla. – A 5-acre brush fire that sparked Friday afternoon just south of Pomona Park in Putnam County damaged one home and forced 40 homes to evacuate, the Florida Forest Service said. 

As of 8:30 p.m., forestry officials said, the fire off Paradise Shores Road was 80 percent contained.

As crews battled the fire on the ground, forestry officials said, an aircraft made 13 water drops.

According to the Forest Service, the cause of the fire is still under investigation. Residents told News4Jax that they heard explosions after seeing a thick wall of smoke.

"First of all, I heard propane tanks go off. Then I looked out back, I saw a big old brush fire. All I could see was just flames. You could feel the heat over this way," said resident Leonel Perez. 

Perez lives a block over from the fire and was on standby to evacuate. He said he wasted no time getting ready. 

"What's going through my head first -- my wife's documents, clothes, baby pictures, my sister-in-law's baby pictures as well, and all of her belongings, too," Perez said. 

People who were either forced to evacuate or put on standby to evacuate, as well as people who live a good distance from where the fire ignited, all agreed the scene was very intense. 

"There was big black smoke way up high," resident Don Egnore said. "You know it might sweep on through here and get the rest of these place because they're all pretty close together and it's awfully dry."

Once crews contained the fire, the biggest threat came from the winds that kept flaring up hot spots, as well as worrying people who live in the area. 

"It was going each way. It was going north, east and west. It was pushing. So everybody got a little nervous," said David Christinson. 

No injuries were reported, forestry officials said, but one home was damaged in the fire. The extent of the damage is not yet known. 

By Friday evening, residents were allowed to return home and the winds began to die down, though crews continued to monitor for hot spots. 

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