Daily news

Fire burns out of control
Firefighters worked with Division of Forestry crews to extinguish the blaze.

By HEATHER CIVIL Daily News Staff Writer


GRAYTON BEACH ó As winds picked up early Tuesday afternoon, a 100-acre controlled burn quickly got out of hand and forced the closure of County Road 30A.

Around 2 p.m., Walton County sheriff ís deputies had to close a small portion of CR 30A because smoke and flames were covering it.

Shortly afterward, the fire jumped the road and began to burn a small piece of land to the south along Western Lake.

No homes were in danger from the fire and no one was injured.

South Walton Fire District firefighters worked with Division of Forestry crews to extinguish the blaze.

The Florida Division of Forestry had been burning brush and overgrowth Monday and Tuesday in the Point Washington State Forest.

The division often conducts such burns to eliminate dry brush and overgrowth that could easily burn in a forest fire.

But Tuesday afternoon, high winds blew hot embers and flames from the controlled area into surrounding brush and trees near CR 30A. Several times, flames grew to several feet high. At one point, a utility pole caught fire, but firefighters quickly put that fire out.

Lt. Dave Swift of the Fire District said his department received numerous calls about the high plumes of black smoke. Then calls came in saying the Division of Forestry had lost control of its burn.

"It wasnít this windy two hours ago," Swift said at the site of the fire. "I think it got over their fire lines."

It took about two hours for firefighters to ensure the fire was under control and to reopen the road to through traffic.

The area of the controlled burn continued to burn Tuesday afternoon ó contained by fire lines.

A Fire District spokesman said park officials inside the park and firefighters outside would be patrolling the area overnight to look out for flare-ups.