Man charged in connection to fire on St. George Island

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By: Erin Lisch
April 10, 2017

FRANKLIN CO., Fla. (WCTV) -- People are returning to their homes Monday as one man who was burning leaves sparked a wildfire in Franklin County along Pine Avenue on St. George Island.

Rick Crossen is being charged with a misdemeanor for an unintentional fire he started on Saturday.

Florida Forestry was hitting flames with water Monday afternoon after a wildfire filled the sky on Saturday.

Just moving into her home on Pine Avenue, Kelie Bond said, "It was a huge blaze in the woods."

A wildfire took over a mile of land on St. George, with people living only steps away from the growing fire.

When describing the scene, Bond said, "I could see flames, 30-35 feet high."

Living at her home for 4 years, Linda Thurman said, "It got very nerve-wracking, fires kept getting bigger and closer and it was very disconcerting."

Those people had to evacuate.

Bond recalls being in her home when she heard the news, "Here's the sheriff knocking at the door saying, 'ma'am you gotta go, you gotta go.'"

The fire erupting from burning yard waste.

Escaped burning debris is one of the leading causes for wildfires in Florida, according to the state.

Franklin County Sheriff A.J. Smith said, "You had a short fall or rain, and it's really dry, there's been no mitigation in that area while the brush was thick and dry so it was not a good idea... it wasn't very smart."

Five fire departments and the Florida Forestry contained the fire.

Looking at her trees, Thurman said, "These palm trees when they go up, they go up like matchsticks."

This sight leaving a lasting memory.

"I’ve never seen that much power in nature in my life," said Bond.

A powerful blaze, that thankfully didn't destroy any homes or harm anyone.

Sheriff Smith says they plan to look back and see how they can improve, including looking into more fire hydrants on Pine Avenue.


By: WCTV Eyewitness News
April 10, 2017

FRANKLIN COUNTY, Fla. (WCTV) -- A man has been charged in connection to a fire that broke out in the woods on St. George Island on Saturday.

Franklin County Sheriff A.J. Smith says Rick Crossen is facing a misdemeanor count of reckless burning of lands.

Sheriff Smith says Crossen is charged with a misdemeanor because the fire was unintentional.


By: Charles Roop
April 9, 2017

TALLAHASSEE, Fla., (WCTV) -- A fire that broke out Saturday on St. George Island is under control, according to the Franklin County Sheriff's Office.

The Sheriff's Office posted on Facebook around midnight that residents could return home, but to keep an eye out on their property.

Sheriff A.J. "Tony" Smith said that there were still a few hots spots Sunday morning, but that it was "100 percent better" than it was Saturday.

No homes were damaged by the fire, Smith told Eyewitness News over the phone Sunday morning. There were no injuries, as well.

"We are very, very fortunate," he said. "It was a very bad fire."

The amount of acres burned is unknown, but Smith said it was "multiple blocks."

A resident burning leaves is believed to be the cause of the fire, according to Smith. He said they do know who was burning, but they'll look into that a little more in the next couple of days.

He asks residents to call authorities if they see any rekindling of fires in the area. Smith also said that there is still smoke on East Pine Street, and that drivers should use caution if driving through there.

The fire started early afternoon and went into the night. leaving multiple agencies to fight the fire.

The smoke and fire could been seen from the WeatherSTEM camera at the FSU Marine Lab in St. Teresa (left side of the frame).

Parts of our area are still under a rain deficit so far this year. Apalachicola - a 12-mile drive from St. George Island - is 6.78 inches below normal with rainfall year to date as of Saturday. Dry weather is in the forecast for the next week, leaving little chance of closing that deficit in the near term.

There are no fire advisories in our area at this time, but Sheriff Smith asks residents not to do any outdoor burning.


By: Alicia Turner
April 8, 2017

TALLAHASSEE, Fla., (WCTV) -- Fire officials are now working to fight a fire in the woods on St. George Island, off of East Pine St.

Officials say the fire started early Saturday afternoon while a man was burning leaves in his yard.

The Franklin County Sheriff's Office says its been working to fight this blaze for hours. So far no homes or businesses have been lost, but dozens are in the line of fire.

The sheriff's office says its been fighting the fire right from some peoples back door. Right now the sheriff's office is asking that people stay off of East Pine St., as they work to get this blaze under control.