Gaston Road fire more than halfway contained

According to the Florida Forest Service, the Gaston Road Fire in New Hope is 80 percent contained after spreading to more than 150 acres.

All the homes on Gaston Road and a few on Shell Landing Road have been evacuated for safety reasons.

Around fifty residents are currently at Live Oak Baptist Church, where Pastor Tim Lanham says supplies are en route.

“We have the Red Cross coming with cots and other various supplies to help with residents, some of whom are also parishioners,” said Lanham. “Everyone is coming together and chipping in during our communities time of need.”

There are currently five tractors and two air drops assisting multiple volunteer fire departments from across Washington County and two trucks from Walton County in their efforts.

Washington County Sheriff Kevin Crews says he is thankful to have so many agencies helping.

“There are so many out here assisting Forestry in putting this fire out,” said Crews. “We are thankful for everyone’s efforts here today.”

Amanda Sewell lives about half a mile from the fire, where she was preparing to gather food for evacuees when she and her family became evacuees themselves.

“I was heading over to my in-laws’ house next door so we could get food together to feed the folks coming to our church,” said Sewell. “When we walked out, we were met by a trooper that said we needed to leave our home too.”

“My kids, ages 10, 8 and 5, were scared and that was the hardest part for me as a mama. Thankfully we were able to get them distracted when we got to the church so we could continue to help with everything here.”

Suzy Cilbrith, along with her family and two dogs, were among those that came to the church after being evacuated.

Cilbrith says she didn’t know what was going on at first.

“I walked out of my house and noticed it smelled very smoky,” said Cilbrith. “The next thing I know we are being instructed to evacuate. We grabbed the dogs and came here.”

A home that was within 100 yards of the flames was being evacuated with the help of Jason Taylor, who said he was there to aid his friends.

“I went over because I knew they needed help,” said Taylor. “It was so smoky that we could barely see, and it was hard to breathe. We got everyone out safely though, and that is all that matters.”

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The Washington County News will continue to update this story as information becomes available.