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Ormond Beach Observer Tuesday, Mar. 5, 2013 7 years ago

Durrance Lane fire contained, after burning 1,100 acres in two counties

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A fire on Durrance Lane, in Flagler County, quickly spread into Ormond Beach Saturday and was fought for several days by 130 firefighters.

BY MATT MENCARINI | STAFF WRITER

The Durrance Lane fire started Saturday as a small brush fire in Flagler County, but it quickly spread into Ormond Beach, growing to a 1,100-acre blaze that called for the evacuation of 300 homes.

As of 11:30 a.m. Saturday, the fire was estimated at 50 acres. Just two hours later, it expanded to more than 200 acres — it reached 1,000 acres by around 8 p.m. that night.

It was a combination of high winds and low humidity, authorities said, that allowed the fire to spread so quickly and made it difficult to contain.

Interstate 95 was shut down around 2 p.m., and Ormond Beach Fire Chief Bob Mandarino said there was concern the fire would jump the highway and spread toward a more densely populated area of the city.

“Right now, the wind is our enemy,” Mandarino said from his vehicle near the intersection of Durrance Lane and Leeway Trail, just minutes after residents secured their horses in a trailer and their dogs in their pickup to leave home.

At that point, the fire had moved east down Durrance Lane, its smoke limiting visibility in the area to approximately 200 yards.

As the blaze moved down Durrance Lane and became visible from Leeway Trail, the smoke and wind were nearly blinding and firefighting vehicles rapidly moved through the intersection.

Joe Herbert and his wife Lisa were at a street festival in New Smyrna Beach when they received a call about the fire. They were with Lisa Herbert’s sister, who lives along Leeway Trail. The Herberts drove back, called someone with a horse trailer and began moving their animals to safety.

Later, at the parking lot of Oasis Church, 85 S. Tymber Creek Road, Joe Herbert sat in his vehicle and said he wouldn't wait for an official evacuation order.

For much of Saturday, the firefighting force included approximately 100 firefighters from Volusia and Flagler counties, 10 bulldozers, two helicopters and other fire-rescue vehicles. Volusia County said 130 firefighter worked the blaze Sunday.

The helicopters, Flagler County’s FireFlight and a Florida Forest Service helicopter, dropped water on the fire until about 8 p.m., when they were grounded due to visibility. The ground crews continued to fight through the night.

By Sunday, the fire had reached at 1,100 acres and was 75% contained.

Wind gusts were estimated at 40 mph Saturday, Flagler County Fire Rescue Chief Don Petito said, which aided the fire’s quick movement. However, by Monday, fire crews had gained control.

“It’s pretty well contained right now,” Petito said Monday, adding that it was 85% contained. “We have crews out there right now, and they are hitting a couple hot spots. They aren’t worried about it getting out.”

Besides a barn, a chicken coop and few scorched mailboxes, the fire caused no residential damage.

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