Officials: Panhandle Wildfire Started with Prescribed Burn

posted by Rick Flagg - 

Investigators in the Florida panhandle say a wildfire that destroyed dozens of homes in Franklin County was started by a prescribed burn. 

A private company called Wildland Fire Services was hired by the state wildlife commission to handle the burn and it got away from them. 

Chris Coburn, with the Florida Forest Service, says it looked like they had things under control until a storm rolled in from the Gulf.

"A thunderstorm formed over it, with 40-plus mile an hour winds and a downburst that just blew fire everywhere ... and started blowing it toward this neighborhood," he said. "At that point, there was barely enough time to evacuate everybody."

Authorities say the wildfire destroyed 36 homes and blackened more than 800 acres. 

One person reportedly died of a heart attack.

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