Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Duval Firefighters Tackle Brevard Flames

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Duval Firefighters Tackle Brevard Flames

Article excerpt

SCOTTSMOOR -- Jacksonville firefighter Jason Kerr came to

Brevard County this week to save some of the thousands of homes

that have been threatened by forest fires.

For a few minutes on Thursday, however, Kerr and a handful of

his Duval County colleagues had to forget about protecting homes

and worry instead about saving themselves.

In all, 26 firefighters from Jacksonville came to Titusville

Thursday morning to aid in the massive effort to contain five

wildfires that have destroyed up to 100 houses and forced about

5,400 families out of their homes.

Kerr's company was watering down homes in the town of

Scottsmoor with three firefighters from Cocoa Beach Thursday

afternoon when strong, swirling winds whipped the fires directly

into their midst.

Suddenly, the firefighters were facing a 60-foot wall of flames

that closed in around them, and all they could do was abandon

their fire hoses and run.

"As fast as we ran, the grass was burning at our feet and the

flames were rolling right over our heads," Kerr said. "For a

moment, I considered jumping in the family's pool and waiting

this thing out."

Instead, the firefighters retreated and regrouped, and

eventually saved eight of the dozen homes in the Golden Shores

neighborhood.

The remains of part of that neighborhood west of U.S. 1 north

of Titusville looked like a blackened wasteland yesterday.

Though most homes were OK, the handful that burned were reduced

to smoldering piles of ash surrounded only by concrete blocks or

junk metal.

One evacuated family, who authorities had not yet notified,

lost their wood-frame home, a fiberglass boat, a station wagon,

a motorcycle and two pickups to the fire Thursday afternoon. All

that remained in the pile of ashen rubble was a metal desk and a

charred hot water heater.

Despite the loss of some homes, Duval County firefighters who

sat around waiting for a new assignment yesterday morning said

they were proud of their efforts in the Golden Shores neighborhood. …

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