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Fiery blast chars limited edition Harley, father's tools

Atlantic Beach family getting ready for church hears 'huge explosion'

ATLANTIC BEACH, Fla. – Members of an Atlantic Beach family are lucky to still have their house after their backyard shed went up in flames in a fiery blast Sunday morning. 

The Warhursts were getting ready for church when they heard "a huge explosion." They quickly ran out of the house to duck for cover in the driveway.

"We're calling 911. Flames were everywhere, smoke. It was just a nightmare situation," Jennie Warhurst told News4Jax on Monday. "I just was frozen. It's stuff you see in the movies, but when it actually happens to you, it's just unreal. I was terrified, scared thinking about what if it was our house."

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The Jacksonville Fire and Rescue Department responded to the fire about 9:30 a.m., and firefighters were able to quickly stop the blaze from spreading to the house. But the flames reduced a limited edition motorcycle down to a skeleton and left behind significant damage to the backyard.

At first, the family said, JFRD told them it thought the motorcycle could be the cause. Though JFRD initially thought the full gas tank could have gotten hot and exploded, according to Warhursts, the fire inspector who came out for about an hour and a half Monday ultimately told the family he doesn't know what caused the fire.

"It's just completely -- everything's gone," Warhurst said as she picked through the remnants of her backyard belongings for the first time Monday afternoon. "I mean looking in there, it's just crazy -- all of it. You can even see tools in there that are melted, too."

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She said that's one of the hardest parts of it all, since those tools were how her husband provides for her and their six children.

"Everything my husband owned for his job was in that shed and it was gone," Warhurst said. "It's gone just like that."

They're working with their insurance now for the rest of the damages, but Warhurst said insurance won't cover the limited edition Harley Davidson motorcycle that her husband was fixing up to sell.

"It's just unrecognizable," she said.

According to Warhurst, the fire inspector ruled out the bike as the cause of the fire. She said he also found no faulty wiring or gas leaks in the shed. 

"It's unreal, I can't. I wish I knew. I mean, I really do. I really do," Warhurst said.

Though she may not ever get the answer, there is one thing she does know.

"We were truly, truly blessed," she said. "It could have been so much worse."

It really was a miracle and the hard work of JFRD that this fire did not spread further, as the shed that burned was very close to the home and the flames even cracked the windows to the children's bedrooms.  

Warhurst said her church and neighbors have been a big help, offering to help them try to clean up in the coming days. 

Photo credit: Jennie Warhurst
Photo credit: Jennie Warhurst

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