JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- On day two at Pumpkin Hill Preserve, firefighters from the Division of Forestry and Florida Parks Services worked late into the afternoon to bring a now 363 acre wildfire under control.
It's a fire that forestry officials didn't expect to respond to when they granted approval to the parks request to burn an estimated 90 acres Monday, as part of a burn management plan. Normally the plan is conducted on small segments of land between December and April, in anticipation of the wildfire season.
Action News has learned park officials contacted the Division of Forestry on Monday morning, and based on the afternoon forecast from the National Weather Service, a permit was granted.
At 10 a.m. the prescribed burn began, but by 12:07 p.m., when Forestry Area Supervisor Mike Work was called, it was already out of control.
"They told me the fire just jumped their lines and they needed some immediate help. I sent one tractor with two backups to start, and it just grew from there."
By Tuesday afternoon, more than 100 firefighters and dozens of rescue units had responded to the fire.
Forestry officials tell Action News the cost of sending those resources is still being estimated, along with the amount the parks services department may have to pay as a result.
Normally, forestry sends a bill to the person or company that started the fire to recoup it's cost, but in the case of a state agency a trade will be considered to save taxpayer dollars.
The case is being reviewed for negligence, but Action News is told Parks Services appears to have had the proper equipment and trained staff in place as required by Florida law.
Florida leads the nation in prescribed burns annually, with more than 2 million acres. Half of that is burned for agricultural reasons. The other is burned to control undergrowth, like the Pumpkin Hill fire.
Wildfire season begins later this month, and runs through June.