HAINES CITY (FOX 13) - The flames were enormous, reaching high into the predawn sky. And the danger was real when fire consumed Monison Pallet Company early Tuesday morning.
Two hundred people who live nearby were forced to evacuate.
“I am glad. I am glad. I am glad that God is on our side,” Petronella Whyte told FOX 13 after the intense heat from the blaze melted the siding on her home while her two grandchildren slept inside.
The fire could be seen from the next town over, Lake Alfred, which is about 12 miles away.
The flames travelled from several buildings across a grass field. They stopped 10 to 12 feet short of John Bonet’s house.
“That’s when I really got worried,” Bonet said.
The stifling heat melted the window trim on his home but didn’t cause any extensive damage.
The fire broke out a little before 3 a.m. By 4 a.m., 200 people had left their homes hoping that they would have something to return to. In the meantime, more than 100 firefighters and emergency workers descended on the blaze from Haines City Fire and other local agencies.
Water was an issue. Pressure was low because the plant is located on U.S. Highway 17-92, far from the source of the water. So additional had to be brought in by tanker truck.
The weather was not on the side of firefighters either. As day broke, the temperature began to rise, humidity dropped, and winds picked up.
Even after firefighters had the blaze under control, they worried that an ember might blow from the fire to a nearby field or onto a home and start another fire. That didn’t happen.
By day’s end, fire had consumed two buildings. Several others were unscathed.
One firefighter’s leg was hurt after picking something up. The firefighter was taken to the hospital, presumably treated and released.
Investigators from the State Fire Marshal’s office are looking for the cause.