MILTON, Fla. (WKRG) — The people of Santa Rosa County and elected officials want answers after last week’s wildfire near Garcon Point.
Friday’s Oyster Bay fire brought back memories of some people’s worst day when the Five Mile Swamp fire destroyed homes two years ago.
“I had come to tears that night in realizing I don’t have any place to go back to,” John Loftis said.
Neighbors in that area went to a meeting Monday night to address Santa Rosa County commissioners but elected leaders have questions too.
“I have a hard time understanding when it’s red flag conditions in this part of the state, when it’s been dry, low humidity and we have had winds for days prior to this fire…for somebody to issue a permit to burn,” Commission Chairman Bob Cole said.
Just like in 2020, the Florida Forest Service signed off on the permit for the controlled burn that got out of control. Commissioners want details on that process.
“I would like to have the state give us a list of what the policies and procedures are and how they determine when they’re going to burn up until the point they set fire to the ground,” Commissioner Colten Wright said.
The people here don’t want to see this happen a third time and they hope the state gives some answers soon.
“Stand up, be responsible, be willing to learn from their mistakes and not ignore it,” Walt Sly said.
“We really need to not let this get pushed under the rug. We need to make sure we look at how these decisions are made and who’s making them,” Jan Wilson said.
“We will not sit here and have our strings pulled anymore,” Loftis said. “We want to understand how these fires work, what they parameters are, why they’re making the decisions they’re making.”
Over the weekend, the fire was 90 percent contained after burning nearly 200 acres. No homes were damaged.