State: Controlled burn sparked Eastpoint fire that destroyed 36 homes

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By: Lanetra Bennett | WCTV Eyewitness News
June 27, 2018

EASTPOINT, Fla. (WCTV) -- Glenn Woodall lost it all.

"I had a big shed behind my house, tools and everything. It all got burned up," he said. "I lost everything; the stove, refrigerator, the whole nine yards. Washing machine, all of that. They need to do something."

"They," referring to the State of Florida.

Woodall says he had a feeling it was the controlled burn that caused the fire that wiped out his home on Wilderness Road.

"They need to straighten some of these people out around here and help them out instead of dodging," he said. "Quit playing this dodge ball stuff and do something."

One resident we spoke with said the fire skipped his home, but destroyed all of his neighbor's.

"I don't know the word for it, but it really hits me," the resident said. "I want to know who's responsible for trying to kill us all, basically. Everybody on this road and Ridge Road could've died, just like that."

The resident says he'd noticed the controlled burn wasn't fully controlled.

"They should be held accountable," he continued. "There should've been somebody out there watching the fire. Even though it was smoldering, there should've been somebody out there watching that fire at all times."

Pennie Bryant is also upset.

"We're very hurt," she said. Her house is damaged, as is her boat, truck and shed.

"My husband lost all his tools. We hear they don't replace the sheds and stuff like that. That ain't right," she said. "They should have to replace everything."


By: Associated Press | WCTV Eyewitness News
June 27, 2018

EASTPOINT, Fla. (AP) -- Florida's agriculture commissioner says a controlled burn by state contractors sparked a wildfire that destroyed 36 homes and burned more than 800 acres and officials have suspended the practice statewide.

Adam Putnam made the announcement Wednesday morning after an investigation by the Office of Agricultural Law Enforcement.

The fire broke out late Sunday in the coastal community of Eastpoint near the historic town of Apalachicola in Florida's Panhandle.

Putnam says his "heart goes out to those affected by this devastating wildfire."

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission said in a statement that a private company was contracted to burn 480 acres on June 18. The agency said 580 acres of private land separated the controlled burn from the Eastpoint neighborhood.

Controlled burns are used as a forest management tool.

The Florida Department of Agriculture tell us that the controlled burn was conducted by Wildland Fire Services, Inc. on behalf of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.

We have reached out to Wildland Fire Services for comment and are still awaiting word back.


By: WCTV Eyewitness News
June 26, 2018

EASTPOINT, Fla. (WCTV) -- Florida Commissioner of Agriculture Adam Putnam said Tuesday that officials are still working to pinpoint the cause of a fire in Eastpoint that destroyed 36 homes.

Putnam told the media during a news conference in Eastpoint, "Colonel Wiggins with the Office of Agricultural Law Enforcement is leading our investigation into the cause, of course, of the fire. We are running down every possible potential cause from lightning, to any number of other reasons, from human-induced error to prescribed burn, or anything else."

Watch more from today's news conference below:


By: Aubrey Brown | WCTV Eyewitness News
June 25, 2018

EASTPOINT, Fla. (WCTV) -- Crews in Franklin County are working to contain a fire that has already destroyed 36 homes.

According to the Franklin County Sheriff's Office, the fire started Sunday afternoon in Eastpoint near Buck Street and Ridge Road.

Florida Commissioner of Agriculture Adam Putnam says the fire has burned 950 acres. As of 9:30 p.m. Monday, officials say the blaze is 95 percent contained. The cause of the fire remains under investigation.


Approximately 36 structures have been destroyed by the fire, and local residents had to wait for hours before being allowed back into their neighborhoods to survey the damage. Crews said that they needed to secure all power lines before they could allow homeowners into the area.



Mandatory evacuations were issued Sunday for portions of Ridge Road, Bear Creek, Wilderness Road, CC Land, Twin Lakes, North Bay Shore and Highway 65.

Holiness Pentecostal Church in Eastpoint, Eastpoint Church of God, Red Pirate and Eastpoint Firehouse have been set up as evacuation shelters.

The Franklin County Sheriff's Office has created a victim relief fund to help those affected by the fire. As of 6 p.m. Monday, the fund had already raised more than $19,000. Authorities say their goal is to raise at least $150,000.

Several local organizations are collecting donations. They are asking for non-perishable food items, diapers, formula, bottled water, clothes, blankets and towels.

Donations can be dropped off at the following locations:

  • Franklin's Promise Coalition
    Eastpoint Fire Aid Fund
    850-323-0175
    28 Airport Road, Apalachicola, FL 32320

  • Michael's Imports
    850-219-0444
    1745 N Monroe Street, Tallahassee, FL 32303

  • Wakulla County 4-H
    850-926-3931
    84 Cedar Avenue, Crawfordville, FL 32327

  • The Liberty County Sheriff's Office
    850-643-2235
    12832 NW Central Avenue, Bristol, FL 32321

  • Family Coastal Restaurants
    850-926-2242
    2302 Crawfordville Hwy., Crawfordville, FL 32327
    500 US-98, Eastpoint, FL 32328

  • Walmart Supercenter
    1900 S Jefferson St, Perry, FL 32348
    Donations may be dropped off in the parking lot

  • Market Square Pavilion
    1415 Timberlane Rd (Market Street), Tallahassee, FL 32312
    Cargo trailer collecting supplies on Tuesday, June 26 from 6pm- 8pm


    Florida Governor Rick Scott met with Sheriff Smith and first responders Monday morning to receive an update on the fire.


    By: WCTV Eyewitness News
    June 24, 2018

    EASTPOINT, Fla. (WCTV) -- Nearly 40 homes have been destroyed by a large fire in Franklin County, the sheriff's office confirms.

    According to Sheriff A.J. "Tony" Smith, at least 300 acres have been destroyed by a fire that started in Eastpoint Sunday afternoon. He said they do not have a cause of the fire at this time.

    As of 11:30 p.m., the blaze was 70% contained.

    Mandatory evacuations remain in place for Ridge Road, Bear Creek, Wilderness Road, CC Land, Twin Lakes, North Bay Shore and Highway 65. Anyone caught in the area could be arrested and charged with trespassing, the sheriff said.

    For those evacuating, Holiness Pentecostal Church in Eastpoint, Eastpoint Church of God, Red Pirate and Eastpoint Firehouse are setup as shelters.


    By: WCTV Eyewitness News
    June 24, 2018

    EASTPOINT, Fla. (WCTV) -- Evacuation orders have been issued after a fire broke out in Franklin County.

    The Franklin County Sheriff’s Office has issued mandatory evacuations for Ridge Road, Bear Creek, Wilderness Road, CC Land, Twin Lakes, North Bay Shore and Highway 65.

    For those evacuating, Holiness Pentecostal Church in Eastpoint, Red Pirate and Eastpoint Firehouse have been set up as shelters.

    According to FCSO, the fire started in Eastpoint near North Bayshore Drive. The road is currently blocked off by members of the Department of Forestry and local fire crews.

    Crews reportedly cut fire lines with tractors in an attempt to prevent the fire from spreading further.



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