Recovery continues 3 years after fire devastates Eastpoint

Recovery continues 3 years after fire devastates Eastpoint
Published: Jun. 24, 2021 at 6:52 PM EDT
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EASTPOINT, Fla. (WCTV) - Three years ago Thursday, the city of Eastpoint was devastated by a wildfire, a day the community will never forget. A controlled burn sparked a wildfire and wiped out 36 homes.

Many people in the area are still trying to get their lives back after losing everything.

The entire area where the fire passed through shows tree still burned. Some people lost jobs, their livelihood, and some were even left with life changing injuries.

One thing they haven’t lost is their fight.

“At 6:00 in the afternoon, you couldn’t see anything in front of your face,” recalled resident Jim Joyner.

“It was the most intense fire you ever seen in your life. Just imagine every house as far as you can go along the road, everything beside you was on fire,” added Joyner.

Joyner is still rebuilding what he calls his farm. A 20-year veteran of the Eastpoint Fire Department battled these flames, and 16 surgeries later, he lost both his legs.

Still, he’s proud his crew saved seven homes that night.

“As a firefighter, you have to do that,” said Joyner. “You have to go back and make sure that everybody’s still, you know. Even though I got hurt, I don’t care.

Billy Dalton lost everything he owned in the fire. The biggest lost, he said, is a shawl his wife wore a night before she died that still held her perfume.

“When I got lonely and everything I could take that out, smell that, I could go to sleep with a smile on my face,” said Dalton. “But it took all that.”

Dalton is among dozens suing Wildland Fire Service for negligence. According to court documents, none of those lawsuits have been resolved.

Attorney Doug Lyons is representing many of these families.

“We are trying to make sure everyone is treated fairly so there is no race to the courthouse,” Lyons said.

Still, these neighbors say they remain “Eastpoint Strong.”

WCTV did reach out to attorney Cecil Davis, who is representing Wildland Fire Services. HE said in a statement that the law firm, “has a long-standing policy of not commenting on pending lawsuits.”

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