FILE- This June 25, 2018 shows Faron Bryant looking over his property after wildfires swept through his neighborhood on Ridge Road in Eastpoint, Fla. Bryant's home only lost its siding, but his workshop, a truck and boat were destroyed. Adam Putnam, Florida's agriculture commissioner, said Wednesday, June 27, 2018, that a controlled burn by state contractors sparked a wildfire that destroyed 36 homes and burned more than 800 acres. (AP Photo/Mark Wallheiser, File)

Florida: 'Controlled' blaze blamed for 36 homes destroyed

June 27, 2018 - 11:25 pm

EASTPOINT, Fla. (AP) — Florida officials have suspended the practice of controlled burns statewide while they investigate how the forest management tool managed to destroy 36 homes in north Florida.

The fire occurred Sunday in the coastal community of Eastpoint near the historic town of Apalachicola in Florida's Panhandle.

Officials are offering up to $5,000 to each household affected by the fire to pay for emergency living expenses, including temporary housing and food. The state also plans to set up a claims office for affected residents.

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission said in a statement that a private company was contracted to burn 480 acres (194 hectares) on June 18. The agency said 580 acres (235 hectares) of private land separated the controlled burn from the Eastpoint neighborhood.

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Fineout reported from Tallahassee. Associated Press writer Freida Frisaro in Miami contributed to this report.

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