Families worry as Pasco Co. wildfires creep toward homes

- A Hudson woman expressed relief Thursday after a brush fire spread into her backyard, torching several items, but leaving her house unharmed.

The fire started Wednesday afternoon along Old Dixie Highway and New York Avenues. Flames spread to the edge of Detroit Avenue, where firefighters worked to make sure the fire didn't jump the road; homes are a few feet away on the other side.

But some embers must have blown over to Linda Shields' property because an 18-wheel trailer, a boat and a shed all caught fire.

"It just looked like everything was on fire," Shields said. "I thought that I was going to lose my house. I thought, in fact my husband ran upstairs to get his father's ashes out of the house he thought, you know, that was the only thing he had left to grab."

Firefighters were able to contain the flames to that part of her property. Shields said there was probably about $30,000 worth of items in the shed. The boat, which belonged to a friend, was about a $40,000 loss.

Shields, however, is focused on what she didn't lose.

"I'm blessed. We are so blessed because we could have lost our home," she said.

Firefighters in Pasco County continue to keep an eye on three other fire that have burned this week.

The largest was a 150-acre brush fire that forced the evacuation of Starkey Park. That one is 40 percent contained.

Another fire along Silver Palm Boulevard burned 50 acres and is 60 percent contained. A campground fire that started earlier this week is complete contained after consuming 75 acres.

"We're very thankful that that ended as well as it did [Wednesday] with no homes lost," said Judith Tear, a spokesperson for the Florida Forest Service.

Tear said lightning is believed to have been the cause for two of the fires. A cigarette sparked the flames near Old Dixie Highway.

Burn bans remain in effect for Pasco, Hernando and Citrus Counties.

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