Kissimmee homeowner recounts close call with wildfire: 'A wall of fire'

A wildfire near Osceola Parkway and Woodland Creek Blvd. has left residents on edge as flames approached dangerously close to homes in the area. 

Esther Jimenez, a homeowner in the neighborhood, shared her harrowing experience during the blaze. Jimenez, who has lived in the area since 2004, described the intensity of the fire. 

"It started a couple of feet out as a very small fire, and as it got closer, it got bigger and bigger until it reached our fence," she said. 

The fire melted the fence, but fortunately, it did not spread to her home. Jimenez first noticed the fire while standing outside on the sidewalk. 

"We saw the fire trucks, and they were saying there was a fire," she recounted. "We saw a little fire far away… and all of a sudden, it started to grow!"

In an attempt to protect her property, she and her son began wetting the grass with a hose, but they had to evacuate as the fire grew too large.

"I initially thought the fire trucks would take care of it, but when the fire started getting bigger and closer, panic set in," Jimenez said. 

She and her family quickly moved cars and important items away from the house, but the arrival of firefighters brought some relief. 

"Luckily, the firefighters arrived quickly, set up, and began to put out the fire. It was a huge relief," Jimenez said.

RELATED: Kissimmee wildfire: Second fire sparks in Osceola County; melts fences, chars woods

When asked about the previous night's storm, Jimenez mentioned she hadn't heard any thunder or seen lightning. 

"I was home, but I didn't hear anything. Someone texted me about fire trucks at the entrance, but I didn't see or hear anything."

Jimenez showed the fire's proximity to her home, estimating it was about five or six feet away. 

"We saw flames, but they were small, and all of the sudden, they started to multiply and grow and get bigger. It seemed like a wall of fire just coming close to us. That's when we decided not to stay!"

Neighbors came together to help each other, wetting the ground to prevent the fire from spreading further. 

"Everyone was scared, but we all chipped in and helped out," Jimenez said. "We're all safe, thank God," 

Jimenez said that in her 20 years of living in the neighborhood, this was the first time she had experienced such a situation. 

"This is a very quiet area. If there were any fires before, they were quickly taken care of and never reached this level."

She said she was "very thankful" to the firefighters who battled the blaze. She and her neighbors continue to monitor the situation as firefighters work to ensure the fire is fully contained and prevent any further outbreaks.

The second fire in as many days

The fire, which started around 5 p.m., prompted evacuations. Residents were anxiously waiting to return to their homes, with many expressing concern about the safety of their properties.

Several fire trucks, including those from Kissimmee, Osceola County Fire Rescue, and Orange County Fire Rescue, were actively battling the flames. Despite the severity of the situation, no injuries have been reported.

"We evacuated about 14 residents today," said Kissimmee Deputy Fire Chief Joe Leone during a news briefing. "They are in cooling buses at this time, and we expect they will be allowed to return to their homes soon. The fire is contained, and no residential structures have been affected, although several fences were lost."

The fire was contained by 8 p.m., and no homes were affected, although several fences were lost, officials said.

Firefighters believe Friday's fire may have been a rekindling of a blaze caused by lightning the previous day. The earlier fire was reportedly extinguished by dusk Thursday, but smoldering undergrowth may have reignited the flames.

"There was a lot of undergrowth, so today we brought in the Department of Forestry to come in and clean out all that undergrowth," Deputy Chief Leone said. "It's hot out there, and this was just a stubborn fire."

Firefighters faced challenging conditions, with intense heat and exhaustion being significant issues.

"The guys worked extremely hard," Leone added. "The church across the street brought out water. We are very thankful for that."

FOX 35 Storm Team Meteorologist Noah Bergren confirmed that the region is experiencing moderate drought, which is contributing to the fire's spread. Despite heavy rainfall in surrounding areas on Thursday, Kissimmee received less than an inch of rain, leaving the ground dry and susceptible to fires.