JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The Yellow Bluff Wildfire is impressive on so many levels. I’ve covered several wildfires in my tenure as a journalist, but to see the destruction of this fire, how quickly it’s moving and growing, and to know nobody died is just impressive.
I spent nearly eight hours Thursday deep in the woods at the scene of the fire, talking to people who live close by.
During those hours, the fire grew from 150 acres to more than 400.
It prompted authorities to close I-95 as flames jumped the interstate in at least three places. Backups on the main detour (U.S. 17) were seen from the ground and air.
One property owner, Earl Allen, let us on his property to gain an up-close perspective of the destruction of the fire. Allen owns 40 acres that border the railroad tracks that run parallel to 17.
Authorities believe that’s where the fire might have started, although the cause is still under investigation.
“The smoke starting to come our way is starting to affect our breathing a little bit, but we’re doing fine," Allen said.
When the wind picked up, the smoke became thick. I could see how those who live in the area might have had a hard time breathing. The smell was heavy. The “yellow flies” were out of control, and my photographer found two ticks on himself.
It was a tough day but very rewarding.
It was great to know that nobody has been seriously injured and no homes or structures are threatened.
Emergency responders, Florida Forest Service, FHP and JFRD, to name a few agencies, are doing an amazing job keeping people safe.
Also, thank you to Mr. Allen for the bottle of water. It helped.