BAY COUNTY, Fla. (WMBB) — Eighty-eight veterans that were forced to evacuate from Clifford Chester Sims State Veterans Nursing Home Sunday afternoon are now back at the facility.
They returned just about 24 hours after a new fire broke out off Tram Road.
After the Star Avenue Fire broke out Sunday afternoon, it became a threat to the nursing home, leading firefighters and other first responders to quickly evacuate everyone inside.
“We have got an hour to evacuate the nursing home,” Springfield Fire Chief Brian Eddins said to his team on Sunday afternoon. “We’ve got buses coming now, and there are 88 residents.”
The veterans stayed overnight at the county fairgrounds where the American Red Cross and Rebuild Bay were caring for all evacuees.
“Our local emergency management teams here did an amazing job keeping those individuals safe and caring for them,” State Fire Marshal Jimmy Patronis said.
Patronis was there when residents were able to return home Monday afternoon after officials determined the facility was no longer in harm’s way.
“We can basically track where it looks like there were hot spots,” he said.
Now, officials are working towards finding a cause for the Star Avenue Fire.
“When we examined it, a lot of the dozers went in in order to cut fire brakes in order to help it stop from further growth, but once the dust settled, we had a street investigating the scene to determine if there was any malicious intent with what took place and how it started,” Patronis said.
Patronis also said fire equipment will make it difficult to investigate.
As of Monday evening, the Star Avenue Fire is no longer a threat to nearby structures, but it’s still burning.
Florida Forest Service reported it is at 250 acres and about 45 percent contained as of Monday evening.