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Interview gives Florida Forest Service more information on fire's cause

8:16 PM, Mar 18, 2013   |    comments
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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- A weekend of wildfires kept fire departments busy on the First Coast. Brush fires burned in St. Johns County over to Middleburg and back in Duval County.

And an interview First Coast News did at the scene of one of those fires may help investigators uncover what started it.

Hungry, orange flames devoured trees and plants along the side of San Pablo Road.

Dangerously close to the road and nearby apartment complex.
Gene Sparks, a homeless man who lived in these woods, said it began when another man he and another man he calls "Vaughn" got into an argument over some beers.

"He got mad about it an walked off then he came back ... And he was sitting right there striking a lighter to it," Sparks said.

FCN's interview with Sparks prompted the Florida Forest Service to change the cause of this fire from "campfire" to "incendiary."

"We did receive some information from you guys that led our investigators out to what the root of the fire was, but we do believe, it has something to do with homeless in that area," said Annaleasa Winter of the Florida Forest Service.

If the person who allegedly started this fire is found, Winter said he or she could face a fine or charges.

Thankfully, the 13-acre fire was contained before it reached any homes.

While investigators with the forestry service do believe this fire could be intentional, they are warning the general public that with our dry conditions right now all it takes is a spark to get a fire going.

Something as simple as burning yard debris outside your home could easily get out of control, so Winters says the Forestry Service is asking people to wait* until fire conditions get better.

"This time of year, March, it is dry, it is windy, frozen hard freeze vegetation is killed, it is just the conditions for fire to be active," Winter said.

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