MILTON, Fla. (WKRG) — A prescribed burn turned wildfire in Santa Rosa County is 90% contained after windy conditions grew it to nearly 200 acres this past weekend.

Residents forced to evacuate are now back home and left wondering why the burn was approved in such conditions.

“I really don’t think it was a good day to do a controlled burn,” said Dickerson City community resident Beth Warner. “It was very windy. As soon as I went out and saw the smoke initially, I thought, ‘oh, why are they burning something today?’ But obviously, they didn’t think it would get so out of control.”

Jim Lamar, a spokesman with the Northwest Florida Water Management District, said the agency had applied for a prescribed burn permit in the area near Garcon Point Road. Lamar said it was approved Thursday, April 7 by the Florida Forest Service.

Friday morning, the agency was also given a verbal OK to burn, Lamar said. He confirmed the forest service is investigating what caused the fire to spread but would not comment further about why the agency would burn on such a windy day.

A spokesman with the Florida Forest Service refused an interview with WKRG News 5 Monday morning, April 11.

For the residents near the Dickerson City community, the fire is eerily similar to the Five Mile Swamp Fire, which caused evacuations in May 2020 from a controlled burn that also got out of hand. More than 2,000 acres burned then and more than a dozen homes were destroyed.

“I got really scared (Friday),” said Warner. “Ash was flying through the air. I was feeling like we needed to evacuate. It was getting way too close. It’s all woods out here so you don’t know if it’s going to come your way.”

Warner evacuated — not knowing whether her home would be saved.

“The smoke was very frightening,” said Warner. “You could tell from all the activity on the street that people who knew more than I did were getting worried, too.”

For the most part, homes made it out ok. At least one yard was burned, but the thankful homeowner said the flames didn’t reach her home.

Most of the wooded areas in the Sea Pines neighborhood are burned. Residents there said they’re grateful it wasn’t worse.

“I’m so thankful for what the forestry guys did and the firemen,” said Warner. “They just did a wonderful job protecting our homes.”