Flagler Beach, FL (December 4, 2021) If there is one thing you can say about Flagler Beach, it’s that it’s definitely a place to make memories.
As the Flagler Beach Holiday Parade was in full swing on Saturday through the city’s downtown area, spectators along the route began to notice black smoke billowing up in the distance to the north as the realization hit that something was on fire.
During a time when roadways were closed down for the annual holiday parade, it was professional coordination between the Flagler Beach Fire Department, Flagler County Fire Rescue, Flagler Beach Police, Flagler County Sheriff’s Office and Flagler County ASSIST who were all on scene, that kept the crowd of thousands calm, and at a safe distance from the antique car in the parade that had caught on fire and was quickly engulfed by flames.
“We had our parade team and we had our coverage crew in Lt. Morgan Rainey, and working with the Flagler County crews, they did an excellent job,” said Flagler Beach Fire Chief Bobby Pace.
“You can see the congestion they had to move through to get in here, catch a hydrant, to put this thing out within minutes. It was encroaching on this structure and this was a huge win. A lot of people could have been hurt with this. I can’t say enough about what the fire crews did here today.”
“It’s a little more excitement for the parade than we wanted today, but again, I can’t give enough credit to the fire crews, said Pace. “They did an excellent job.”
All agencies stayed in communication to ensure the public’s safety as crews worked to extinguish the vehicle fire, with tires popping in the heat.
“You can plan for everything, and I’ve worked with Rotary on this, and this was definitely not in the plan, but what I can tell you is the men and women of the Flagler Beach Fire Department responded, the Citizen Observer Patrols, Flagler County Sheriff’s Office and Flagler Beach Police Department did everything they could so that nobody was injured,” said Flagler Beach Police Chief Matt Doughney.
The majority of the parade had crossed the intersection of State Road 100 and A1A when the incident happened in front of Faro Beachside Eatery and Chief Doughney was thankful for the swift action on the part of emergency responders and for having an emergency plan in place.
“The vehicle unfortunately is unsalvageable, but we did have to cancel the end of the parade, which was only five or six vehicles. It just goes to show, when you plan an event properly, even when you’re thrown a monkey wrench like a fully engulfed vehicle fire, when professionals handle their business, people don’t get hurt.”
Flagler Beach Mayor Suzie Johnston surveyed the scene, finding a bright side to the situation.
“Not only did the crowd last night have a welcome back First Friday, they got to have a parade, and now see our first responders in action,” said Johnston, thankful for the seamless collaboration between agencies on site.
“It’s fantastic. Not only did we have Flagler County Fire Department, we had Flagler Beach and we also had if we needed, backup Palm Coast Fire Department right behind,” she said.