Polk residents return home to survey damage caused by massive wildfire

POLK COUNTY, Fla. (WFLA) – In Indian Lake Estates, Tim Gallagher saw a fireman at the end of his street and wondered what was going on.

He soon found out the entire area was under an evacuation order.img_2345

“I come home, pulled into the driveway and smoke was all across the back. Got my dogs, came back out and nothing but flames across the back at that time,” said Gallagher.

His home was spared from major damage, but his car, his clothes and the inside of his home all smell of smoke.

“Firemen [are] doing a heck of a job. If it wasn’t for what they did here, a lot of these people wouldn’t have a house,” said Gallagher.

A few streets away, Steven Hall found the vinyl siding on his porch melted from the heat of the fire around his home.

Hall said he tried to fight the fire with a small garden hose.

“Then it moved so fast, I mean it was like it was like no flames, and then all of a sudden, they were here,” said Hall.

Eventually, he and his wife were forced to leave because of the heat.

“My wife came running out of the house and she said, ‘we’ve got to leave, we’ve got to leave.’ So, we jumped in the car, and by that time, there was 10 to 20 to 30 foot flames, just a wall of it, fire,” said Hall.

Hall and his wife were not injured, although they are still in shock because of what happened.

“We’re going through the trauma, neither one of us had ever experienced something like that,” said Hall.

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