NORTH PALM BEACH, Fla. - A Treasure Coast neighborhood remains intact after a 55 acre wildfire burned in Hobe Sound's Poinciana Gardens community Thursday afternoon. Hard work by fire crews and by residents likely saved more than twenty homes.
At last check, the flames were 90 percent contained. Thursday night, crews intentionally burned more vulnerable vegetation to keep the flames from returning. Florida Forest Service, Martin County Fire Rescue and residents all helped to battle the fire.
"I was riding my bike and found it coming really close to the houses so I jumped off and grabbed a hose," said Diane Jettinghoff. Flames came very close to her home but were slowed by a small canal at the rear of her property.
At one point, twenty homes were in danger as dozens of acres of dry vegetation went up in flames. Resident Marvin Loisell had fire creeping closer on three sides of his property. "By the time I came out to investigate the smoke, it had already flared up and jumped across to my side of the road and started working its way behind my house," said Loisell.
Strong wind gusts from the north and a lack of rain on the Treasure Coast is a dangerous combination. "A lot of fire and that fire was really, really high," said Loisell, who was one of many residents in this neighborhood who had listened to previous warnings to have a 'defensible space' around his home.
The potential for the fire to restart, and to grow larger, is real. "There is a good chance that this fire could spread even further tomorrow if don't do everything we can to stop it tonight," said Melissa Yunas, public information officer for Florida Forest Service. Yunas said crews are preparing for a shift in wind direction on Friday, which could fuel the flames again. The cause of the fire remains under investigation.