EXCLUSIVE: Florida Forest Service Battles Madison County Wildfire

Florida Forest Service Battles 500 Acre Wildfire in Madison County
Posted at 6:15 PM, Apr 03, 2017
and last updated 2017-04-04 11:48:45-04

MADISON COUNTY, Fla. (WTXL) -- A wildfire that started Sunday has impacted more than 500 acres in Madison County, but forest and fire officials have been working around the clock to make sure it doesn't spread.

It's a constant battle for the Florida Forest Service (FFS), keeping wildfires from getting out of hand.

The wildfire started around 3 p.m. Sunday, according to Eric Black, the district manager for the Florida Forest Service unit based in Perry.

"With each hour, it's better and better looking, because we have seen less fire activity out here and virtually no new spread of fire," Black said.

Black took WTXL on an exclusive tour along several "fire lines", man-made pathways to stop fires in their tracks.

"Just because we have a fire line doesn't mean we leave the fire," Black said. "We're going to continue to monitor the fire until it is dead out."

To keep the wildfire from growing, forestry officials flew overhead, releasing fire retardant, a reddish-pink compound that was spread all over the trees and bushes. The goal is to prevent the spread of any more wildfire and to contain it as much as possible.

"The larger the fire is, the more energy it has, the more difficult it's going to be to contain," Black explained.

So far, so good. 80 percent contained, but the threat of severe weather is a real concern.

"It's going to bring a lot of wind, potentially a lot of lightning, and not enough rain to wet the soil and the debris that's out there that's unburned," said Black.

About 15 crews from Jacksonville to Pensacola have helped so far, with several more ready to fight any new fires.

The 500 acres that are affected belong to a single property owner. FFS said the owner has been cooperating with officials to put out the fire, providing equipment and manpower.