Book burning gone wrong blamed for 400-acre forest fire in Florida

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WATCH ABOVE: Authorities in Florida now believe a book burning was responsible for starting a forest fire in Florida which has consumed over 400 acres.

Authorities in Nassau County, Florida say a book burning is to blame for a recent wildfire which consumed some 400 acres.

Florida Forest Service Public Information Officer Annaleasa Winter tells Global News the wildfire was the largest in Nassau County in almost 20 years.

“In addition to the 400 acres burned, we’re looking at about 10 to 15 homes that were impacted by the fire,” Winter said. “I personally saw two homes that were totally destroyed, but at the moment we’re still doing damage assessment

Authorities believe the fire originated around 2 p.m. Wednesday on Willis Lane when a man attempted to burn an unknown number of paperback books.

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Wind gusts up to 50 km/h resulted in the fire growing out of control, rapidly spreading before firefighters we able to get the blaze under control.

Winter says that as of Thursday morning the fire was at 65 per cent containment, with numerous hotspots still of concern to firefighters.

As for the cause of the fire, Winter says the “book burning” wasn’t an attempt at censorship or any sort of political statement – but rather, an act of garbage disposal gone wrong.

“The guy that did it feels absolutely terrible,” Winter said. “It was household garbage consisting of paper, and he just had turned his back on it for a moment.”

Winter says that despite his remorse, the man will still be cited for illegally burning garbage.

“When exercising caution, our residents and visitors play a critical role in protecting not only Florida’s wildlife and natural habitats, but the lives of our wildland firefighters and first responders,” said Jim Karels, Florida State Forester.