It turns out yesterday’s forecasted storms did more harm than good, according to fire officials at this morning’s news briefing.
“As we predicted, the lightning overshadowed the rain,” Fire Chief Don Petito said, citing five new fires in the county, raising the tally back over double digits, to 12. Assistance was also pulled out of Volusia this morning, he said, to go to work locally.
The most significant flare-up, he said, is called the Opossum One fire, on Opossum Lane off of County Road 13. Burning near a swamp, the blaze stands at 15 acres and is not contained.
A second fire, the Opossum Two fire, is nearby, currently five acres and also uncontained.
Crews have been working both fires since late last night, Petito said. The Opossum One fire is being fought with three bulldozers and a four-engine task force.
The other new starts — one on Colbert Lane, one near Roberts Road near the Sea Ray boat plant and one on Seminole Woods Boulevard — are all less than an acre and either contained or extinguished.
Crews were sent out this afternoon, at approximately 1 p.m., in response to a flare-up at the Roberts Road fire, as well.
“Unfortunately, with the help that Mother Nature gives us, we might be getting some of the wrath, too,” said Todd Schroeder, Division of Forestry information officer.
But it’s not all bad. The Espanola fire remained the same overnight: still at 5,136 acres and 60% contained, he said. “Total mop-up” is still being conducted, as well.
It did breach the southern edge of its boundary lines, in what Schroeder called a less-than-one-acre “slop-over,” but the breach was quickly extinguished. A Blackhawk helicopter was brought in after to cool down the lines.
Yesterday’s rains, according to Emergency Management Technician Bob Pickering, fell mostly in the southeast quadrant of the county, instead of on the western edge, where we need it. Precipitation-less thunderstorms also extended up the east coast.
Today should bring more widespread thunderstorms, he said, in the late afternoon.
Although the DOF will be transitioning in a new command staff on 7 a.m. Monday morning, operations will remain the same, Schroeder stressed.
“Resources are still on the ground. Nothing has changed,” he said. The DOF’s new local incident commander will be Joey Brady, from the Panama City region.