Florida Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam says a prescribed burn is the cause of a fire in Eastpoint that has destroyed more than 800 acres and burned more than 30 homes.
Update 10:07 a.m.: The Florida Wildlife Commission says its suspending its prescribed fire program statewide in the wake of the Franklin County fire. The agency had contracted with a private company called Wildland Fire Services Incorporated to burn a 480-acre side in the Apalachicola River Wildlife and Environmental area. Sunday evening, it got out of hand, burning some 820 acres and scorching 36 homes in an Eastpoint neighborhood.
Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam says the prescribed burn caused the fire, yet in its statement, the wildlife commission says the cause is still under investigation. The agency says it will review its policies and procedures with prescribed fires.
Read the statement below:
"Florida Commissioner of Agriculture Adam H. Putnam today announced that, following an investigation led by his Office of Agricultural Law Enforcement, a prescribed burn conducted by Wildland Fire Services, Inc. on behalf of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission caused the wildfire in Eastpoint, which burned more than 800 acres and destroyed 36 homes.
“My heart goes out to those affected by this devastating wildfire, and I thank all of our partners in the response effort to stop the spread of the fire,” stated Commissioner of Agriculture Adam H. Putnam.
The Florida Forest Service led response efforts to contain and extinguish the wildfire with assistance from: the Franklin County Sheriff’s Office, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, the Department of Environmental Protection, the Eastpoint Volunteer Fire Department, and other local fire departments.
During the course of the investigation, other possible causes, such as lightning, arson and fire accidentally caused by man, were eliminated."