03/23/2017 08:17 EDT

Florida Book Burning Ignites Wildfire, Destroys Homes

Nearly 200 people were forced to flee.

Two homes were destroyed and another 25 buildings damaged after a Florida man illegally burned a pile of books on Wednesday.

Florida Fire Service Jacksonville tweeted that the fire began in Nassau County after a man burned a pile of paperbacks. It's illegal to burn household garbage in Florida.

Overnight, the wildfire grew to over 2.5 square-kilometres, forcing nearly 200 people to flee their homes. The fire was 65 per cent contained as of Thursday afternoon.

“It was a fire that had a lot of fuel. The weather conditions were right for the kind of devastation that we are seeing," Billy Estep, director of emergency management in Nassau County, told The Florida Times-Union.

"We are standing in front of a destroyed double-wide mobile home that is somebody’s very existence, everything to their lives," he said.

A Florida Fire Services spokesperson told Reuters that the man accused of starting the fire was cited, but not charged with a crime. However, he will be liable for the cost of fighting the fire and the damage.

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