JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (CN) – A 696-acre wildfire in northeast Florida caused by a man burning boxes he had used to move is now 65 percent contained, the state Forest Service said Thursday.
The fire, in Florida’s Nassau County, near Jacksonville, spread quickly in an area in which pine forests have grown parched due to dry weather conditions.
It is illegal to burn household garbage in Florida.
Annaleasa Winter of the Florida Forest Service told reporters on Thursday afternoon the man, who has not been identified, “felt devastated” about the fire.
He has been cited for conducting an unauthorized burn and will be billed for the cost of the firefighting effort.
He could also be liable for property damage caused by the fire, officials said. So far two homes have been destroyed, eight homes damaged and 19 other structures have been burned since the fire started on Wednesday
One hundred and fifty people were evacuated from the town of Bryceville, but that evacuation order was lifted Thursday afternoon.
Winter said “We should be able to bump up the containment to 70 percent by this evening but there’s a lot of hot concentrated heat sources out there in the rubble that’s burning. There’s still a lot of ash and smoke being emitted.”
“There is a risk a wind gust could blow a fire brand out of our containment and take of running again,” she said.
The Nassau County Florida Emergency Management said putting out the fire, cleaning up the mess in its wake and restoring power to the affected area could take several days to finish.
More than 200 firefighters from Nassau, Duval Clay, and St. Johns Counties responded to battle the fire, as did the Florida Forest Service.