Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Camp Blanding Fire Can't Be Fought; Officials Say Blaze Was Probably Started by Lightning in August

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Camp Blanding Fire Can't Be Fought; Officials Say Blaze Was Probably Started by Lightning in August

Article excerpt

Byline: ANNE SPONHOLTZ

A fire burning at Camp Blanding since August has caused concern from citizens and workers at Keystone Heights City Hall, many of whom have suffered from smoke settling in the area. However, what many thought was a prescribed fire, is instead a fire that started most likely by lightning.

Jon Myatt, public information director for the Florida Department of Military Affairs, said the fire is contained and Camp Blanding's neighbors do not have to worry about it crossing the road or getting out of control. Myatt said that the Florida Division of Forestry is overseeing management of the fire.

The problem, Myatt said, is that there is no way to put out the fire, because it is located in the camp's impact area used for field artillery exercises, making it unsafe for firefighters or equipment to enter the area to fight the fire.

It covers about 200 acres of Camp Blanding's 72,000 acres. And another problem, Myatt said, is that it goes out and then flares up again.

"We are managing and treating it as a controlled burn," he said.

Paul Neimeyer said that the smoke that settled in the Keystone Heights area Wednesday was reason for concern, especially for individuals with respiratory problems. Neimeyer said she had contacted City Hall and was told it was a prescribed burn.

"If that's the case, there was not much foresight for the concern of the people in this area," she said.

However, if that was not the case, as it turned out to be, Neimeyer said the smoke would be something residents would have to tolerate.

Several of the staff at City Hall said that the smoke on Wednesday morning was so bad it was seeping in the door.

The smoke was causing workers to experience coughing and their eyes were also watering, staff members said.

"It was coming in right under the door," said Jeannie Broome. …

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