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As Residents Recover Some Question Who Is Responsible For Franklin Fire

A school bus and car are burned out and covered with ash from a wildfire.
Ryan Dailey
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An investigation by the state commissioner of agriculture’s office indicates the wildfire that destroyed dozens of Franklin County homes was sparked by a prescribed burn. Officials from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission contracted with a local company to administer the burn which helps protect native plants and animals. But when the fire escapes who is responsible for the damage? Benjamin Wilson is a lawyer with Morgan and Morgan. He specializes in representing victims following a fire. He says it may be too soon to answer that question.

“We have to look at the entire situation and evaluate it and investigate it for other contributing factors that may or may not be involved in the end result here,” Wilson said.

Wilson says it will likely be months before full reports on the cause of the fire are available from state agencies. He also says access for investigators from insurance companies and law firms is currently limited.

Meanwhile, Florida Fire Marshall and CFO, Jimmy Patronis says due to the announced cause of the fire he's sending adjusters to Franklin County Thursday and Friday to help residents file a partical settlement claim of $5,000 per houshold.

"“Residents who lost everything shouldn’t have to wait for government bureaucracy. I’ve directed my staff to get boots on the ground to help those impacted to have an expedited track back to normalcy," Patronis said in a relase.

Adjusters will be stationed at the Franklin County Sheriff's Office. Those seeking help should bring proof of residency such as a drivers license or utility bill.

Follow @Regan_McCarthy

Regan McCarthy is the Assistant News Director for WFSU Public Media. Before coming to Tallahassee, Regan graduated with honors from Indiana University’s Ernie Pyle School of Journalism. She worked for several years for NPR member station WFIU in Bloomington, Ind., where she covered local and state government and produced feature and community stories.

Phone: (850) 645-6090 | rmccarthy@fsu.edu

Find complete bio, contact info, and more stories here.