Naturally, June marks the start of yet another hurricane season and if prognostication holds true, then this 2006 season should, unfortunately, once again be quite eventful and extremely active. A reminder for everyone within our beloved city to ensure that all well documented precautionary and preparatory measures are understood and adhered to.
Oddly enough, no sooner had the above been written than Tropical Storm Alberto made an appearance, albeit a weak one, here on the First Coast. No major flooding occurred within our region, however an estimated 11,000 JEA customers lost power as a result of this, admittedly, mostly wet and windy 'practice' session for the potential bigger storm yet to come. Our Emergency Operations Center was on top of things throughout, monitoring proceedings via a level three activation.
On Wednesday evening, June 14th, units were dispatched to a report of a single family structure fire located at 11472 Rolling River Boulevard. Firefighters arriving at the scene confirmed that the single story home had heavy smoke showing from the rear portion of the dwelling, an area that was approximately the northwest corner and would later prove to be a back bedroom. Despite a 'successful' primary search conducted by the crew of Ladder 34 that led to the discovery of a male victim on the floor between garage and kitchen area, the assistance proved too little, too late. After bringing the man outside, it was discovered that he could not be resuscitated and he was pronounced dead at the scene. The fire was subsequently extinguished in less than 15 minutes. The victim, Kenneth White, was 100 years old (birthdate 1/1/1906) and had recently been honored by the Jacksonville City Council for his birthday landmark. For some perspective, it should be noted that Mister White (an ordained minister) had retired from the Jacksonville Railroad in 1944, entered into the United States Army that same year and was discharged in 1952 with the rank of Master Sergeant. The cause of the blaze is still undetermined.
Sunday, June 25th, a blaze at the new 'Red Chilies' restaurant located at 8661 Baymeadows Road caused approximately $500,000 in damages. Firefighters responding to the structure fire at 3:30 AM that morning reported that flames were showing through the roof upon arrival at the scene. Investigators later found proof of an accelerant within the ruins of the building, with the investigation conversely focusing on the extreme likelihood of the cause as arson. No injuries were reported from the scene.