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CNN Today

Florida Residents Anxious to Return to Homes and Families Following Latest Fire

Aired June 8, 2000 - 1:19 p.m. ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

LOU WATERS, CNN ANCHOR: Nature is complicating matters for the crews battling wildfires throughout Florida. It rained yesterday, but the lightning strikes from the storms started new fires. A fire forced almost two dozen people to leave their homes in Bithlo, which is near Orlando.

More on their ordeal from Chris Martinez (ph) of Central Florida News 13.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: ... or maybe the governor thinks that because we live in Bithlo, we're nobody.

CHRIS MARTINEZ, CENTRAL FLORIDA NEWS 13 REPORTER (voice-over): Ray Moralez (ph) and his Bithlo neighbors are fearing the worst.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I lost everything, I've got to start all over again.

MARTINEZ: Ray is just one of many folks in Bithlo that had to be evacuated from his home on East Orlando Road after a brushfire broke out Wednesday afternoon right in his own backyard.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don't know. I can't see the house so far because I can't go there.

MARTINEZ: Now Ray and his neighbors are all fired up.

DENISE LACOURT, RESIDENT: The problem is they won't let me go home to get my kids. They're home. They're there, and they said that they would take of it. They're knocking on doors doing mandatory evacuations. But I've been standing out here for an hour and a half, and I've yet to see them.

MARTINEZ: And as the battle begins to put out this fire, for folks like Denise Lacourt, the battle to get home is just beginning.

LACOURT: And he told me that that would be impossible at this time. I would not be allowed back, and that they would just leave it to the sheriff to do door-to-door evacuations.

MARTINEZ: Denise and some of her neighbors, like Michelle Law, anxiously await to find out any information on their homes that are near the fire.

MICHELLE LAW, RESIDENT: My children that are at home -- I had to have my neighbor come and get my kids and bring them over to her house, because they're not letting her leave her house because the fires are blocking her in.

MARTINEZ: But with tensions high and tempers flared by this heated situation, these folks here say getting that information has not come easy.

UNIDENTIFIED FIRE RESCUE OFFICER: You have to go. Sorry, you have to go.

LACOURT: They're not being very polite either when you consider, you know, what's at stake: your children, your family, your home. They could have a little bit more compassion than just telling everybody to go. I said I wasn't leaving without my kids. They told me I could leave or I could go to jail.

TAMMY WUNDERLY, ORANGE COUNTY FIRE RESCUE: That is something I am not aware of. I have talked to most of these residents in this area.

MARTINEZ: Tammy Wunderly says fire and police officials are just doing their job, and that is trying to protect these folks and their homes.

WUNDERLY: We have worked very hard to keep them informed as to what the status of the fire is and what the status of the evacuation is. I have not heard any negative complaints.

MARTINEZ: But folks like Ray say the damage to these folks morale has already been done. He says at this point, he can only hope his home hasn't suffered any damage at all.

(INTERRUPTED BY COVERAGE OF BREAKING NEWS)

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