JACKSONVILLE, Fla.-- Action News is digging deeper into how a local prescribed burn got out of control in Pumpkin Hill.
Neighbors were upset and pointed to the dry weather in recent weeks, and wondered why the burn was even permitted. Action News went to find the answer. Annaleasa Winter is the spokeswoman for the Florida Forest Service.
"What went wrong was the humidity lowered and the winds got gusty," said Winter.
It's the same answer we got from the Florida Park Service, who was doing the burn.
"The winds kind of layered up and we noticed humidity dropping. The fire will create its own wind for a certain amount, depending on intensity and as the thing started to build, it started to override the existing conditions," said Jeff DiMaggio with the Park Service.
We called the National Weather Service to get the conditions for Tuesday. They have locations at JIA and Mayport. Pumpkin Hill is right in between the two. According to their data, humidity at both locations remained at or above 29-percent when the fire got out of control. Forestry officials tell us that number is safe for a prescribed burn. "Humidity affects the moisture content of dry dead fuels so the lower that number is the more flammable. It is so it will burn hotter and will burn faster," said DiMaggio.
Action News meteorologists confirm the conditions. We also found the wind gusts remained under 15 miles an hour, according to data from the two monitoring stations. Both agencies still blame the weather conditions they say changed. "We agree with the decision and stand by it. The weather didn't do what it was predicted to do," says Winter. "This is one of those things, it's going to happen from now and then. It's not the first time we've had issues and probably won't be the last," said DiMaggio.
DiMaggio tells Action News they don't have money in the budget to fight fires. It will have to come from other areas of the budget.