Wildfire outbreak in Clay County

Fire officials warn residents about dangerous conditions in high winds

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CLAY COUNTY, Fla. - The Hillary family is breathing a sigh of relief Monday night.

Fortunately, their land suffered little damage from a 15 acre brush fire that threatened their Clay County home.

"I didn't know I was just trying to see what I could do to protect my family and keep my house from burning down," said homeowner John Hillary.

It took firefighters an hour and a half to put the fire out. Monday's fire is the second one to break out in a Keystone Heights lake bed in three days.

An old bonfire almost destroyed Elmer Still's home on Saturday.

"It probably came within 50 or 60 feet, we had the water hoses out there," said Still.

John Ward with Clay County emergency management said the timing of these fires is not coincidental; they are sparking because of the dry weather.

"We want to stress that we are in very dry conditions. We've not had a lot of rain so these brush fires are going to be a constant issue," said Ward. "The cause of today's fire is under investigation."

Only a fence was damaged in Monday's fire, but the threat for another outbreak elsewhere remains. There is no burn ban in Clay County, and without enough rain, fire officials warn that everyone needs to be careful.

"There are a lot of houses in this area that back up to those lakes and there's a lot of dry grass and when the wind picks up, if there is any type of delay its going to move up to the back of the house and catch the house on fire," Ward said.

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