Mayor Milissa Holland: This is why we became a city.
This month marks the 20th anniversary of the wildfires that forced the evacuation of Flagler County and burned hundreds of homes, the worst natural disaster in the county’s history. The city of Palm Coast presented a proclamation to Fire Chief Mike Beadle and a crowd of 23 other firefighters in attendance at the City Council meeting June 5.
After a video presentation, the City Council and the crowd in attendance at the June meeting gave the firefighters a standing ovation.
Beadle thanked the community for their support and signed off with his trademark phrase, “Be safe.”
Mayor Milissa Holland thanked the firefighters and put the importance of their work into political perspective.
“I can tell you, the city was incorporated mainly because of this discussion,” she said, referring to a desire for a quicker response time than the county was then offering. Today, she said, that response time is “extraordinary."
The proclamation, read by City Council member Bob Cuff, includes the following information:
- Extreme drought conditions resulted in wildfires across the state in 1998
- Flagler County’s fires started in Seminole Woods in early June and then in the Pepperdine Drive area
- The Ware fire then devastated Matanzas Woods and the F Section
- There were hundreds of fires in Palm Coast and the surrounding area
- Hundreds of homes were destroyed
- In July, Gov. Lawton Chiles ordered all 45,000 residents of Flagler County evacuated – the first and only time in the history of Florida that a mandatory evacuation for wildfire was enforced for an entire county
- Fire response crews from across Florida and the United States, including California, converged on Palm Coast to assist our local firefighters
- In early July, the winds finally calmed, giving firefighters a chance to get ahead of the
- President Bill Clinton and Vice President Al Gore visited
- After Palm Coast became a City, the Palm Coast Fire Department was officially transferred as a municipal fire department in April 2000
- Today, Palm Coast has five fire stations, 57 career firefighters, over 50 volunteer firefighters and fire police