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Action News Investigates Pumpkin Hill Fire

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Updated: 7/01/2013 11:58 pm
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Action News obtained a state report that questions a prescribed burn that got out of control and dangerously close to homes.

That fire in early April burned nearly 400 acres before firefighters were able to extinguish the flames.

We saw burn areas that reached backyards for neighbors in the Pumpkin Hill area. 

Gloria Joyner lives in the line of the fire.

"They've told me that they've got it under control, but every time I turn around its coming back up again," Joyner told Action News April 2. 

The Florida Park Service blamed weather for the fire spreading so rapidly. 

They said changing winds and dropping humidity caused problems.

A 19-page state report obtained by Action News points to other issues.

The report said there were conflicting weather forecasts with different wind speeds and wind direction.

It also said the forecasts did not meet the range to safely conduct a prescribed burn.

Despite the report, Park Service Director Donald Forgione still defends the work of the crews.

"Fortunately the crew realized it early on and was able to call for support," Forgione told Action News.

Forgione did admit some of the weather parameters were not right for the burn.

The report also said crews did not follow the state's plan for prescribed burns.

They did not tour the area before igniting the fire.  Instead, they relied on photos of the area, taken 10 months before the prescribed burn.

The state report also questions the crew that handled the burn.

It says they did not have the experience to handle a fire at such a challenging location.

Action News asked if anyone is being held accountable for the fire.  They are not.
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The views expressed here do not necessarily represent those of Action News Jacksonville

linniex - 8/29/2013 6:23 PM
0 Votes
Hmm. I find this even more insulting to those of us who almost lost our homes here. The Park Service DOES NOT notify us when these burns are going to happen. I get the impression that since we are so secluded they just think no one will care. I say investigate.

flapperar - 7/2/2013 10:36 PM
0 Votes
This is insulting to the Florida Park Service and the people laying down their lives and energy. They do an exemplary job of prescribed burning and dedicate their lives doing so. Please do your research in regards to "blaming the weather", the weather is THE crucial factors to EVERY single burn and like the cliches, it's unpredictable. The FPS and FFS maintained control even when the fire got out of control, no one was hurt, no homes were burned over. You've given a negative twist to a positive situation.
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