HOA plans to file damage claim against Florida Forest Service after Oyster Bay fire

Article Courtesy of  NEWS 5 WKRG

By Daniel Smithson

Published April 21, 2022



MILTON — It’s been a week since a prescribed burn got out of hand near Garcon Point in Milton, burning about 200 acres while narrowly avoiding homes.

An email dated April 10 obtained by WKRG News 5 shows the Sea Pines neighborhood homeowners association plans to file damage claims against the Florida Forest Service’s insurance company.

The Florida Forest Service approved the controlled burn last Friday, despite windy and dry conditions.

The neighborhood affected is located off Dickerson City Road in Milton.

The controlled burn, started by the Northwest Florida Water Management District, quickly got out of control and burned several wooded lots in the Sea Pines neighborhood.


It also damaged the neighborhood’s front gate and the community boardwalk.

The Florida Department of Agriculture, which oversees the Florida Forest Service, says it is actively investigating the fire and hopes to put out a report soon.

The agriculture department has said the fire should not have happened — adding the burners should have adjusted their plans if weather conditions changed.

Homeowners in the neighborhood are still dumbfounded about why the burn was approved by the forest service during unfavorable conditions.

“I hope somebody investigates who gave whoever started the fire permission to start it,” said Robin Hall, who is building a home in the neighborhood with her husband. “I think they should look into the standards that they have in place when they decide to allow somebody to burn.”

Hall and her husband stayed behind during the fire, despite being encouraged to evacuate, to protect their home. Hall said Friday she was aware of the homeowners association’s plans to file damage claims. She said she believes whoever is responsible should pay for damages to the neighborhood.

“I think there was damage caused that certainty wasn’t our fault,” Hall said. “They started the fire. They caused damage to land that the homeowners association owns, which all of us contribute to, and damaged a lot of our property. They caused the fire, so they should pay for it.”

The HOA says in the email it’s compiling a list of damages and plans to file a claim soon.

WKRG News 5 reached out to the HOA president for comment and had not hear back as of Friday afternoon.