BAY COUNTY, Fla. (WMBB) — Laurie Shuman was at a doctor’s appointment when the massive fire reached her home on Friday.
“My house is gone, it’s gone,” said Evacuee Laurie Shuman.
She couldn’t get back in time to save her dog or any belongings.
“I was sitting out on my back porch by my pool this morning, and I saw some smoke,” Shuman said. “And it looked like a controlled fire so I went ahead and went to my doctor’s appointment. And by the time, I was gone 40 minutes. By the time I got back, my house was gone, including my doggie.”
The fire is still burning and is now between 800 to 1,000 acres. So far, 600 homes have been evacuated.
“I’m devastated. This is a brand new neighborhood, a little more than three years old. Brand new, it’s gone. It’s gone,” Shuman said.
This is the second time Shuman will have to restart her life, she lost her home in Hurricane Michael in 2018, and she’s not alone.
Other evacuees are still waiting to find out if their homes are standing. They are fearful that for the second time in less than four years, they’ll also have to start over.
“It’s just frightening. And we’re lost,” Evacuee Odessa Braden said.
Braden first saw the fire on Tyndall Parkway, and she barely had time to go home and save her pets before evacuating.
“We barely had time to get in and get our pets and grab medicine, and we didn’t even have time to get clothes,” Braden said.
While she sits and waits, she doesn’t know what to expect.
“I don’t feel like I know what to do or where to go from here,” Braden said.
Braden said some of her neighbors stayed to protect their homes from the flames with hoses.
Community members, Red Cross and The Salvation Army are at Hiland Park Elementary with food, cots and supplies for the evacuees.
Inside of the church, about 30 people will be sleeping on cots and many don’t know if their homes are still standing.
So far, 12 homes have been damaged, and two are destroyed.