‘Under control’: Hidden Dunes a ‘Firewise’ neighborhood after mitigating risk of blaze

Published: Monday, October 8, 2012 at 10:21 AM.

However, living in a place with a lot of natural vegetation can pose a serious fire risk, according to Brian Goddin with Florida Forest Service.

“A lot of these South Walton Communities have thick vegetation,” said Goddin. “Walton County is one of our greatest challenges.”

Kern agreed. “You don’t have to look too hard to find jungle areas,” he said, adding that the vegetation prompted the neighborhood to start making efforts to mitigate its fire risk almost a decade ago.

“We started probably eight, nine years ago with a definite project, to clear out a wildfire area,” said Kern, who admits the foliage was a bit overgrown. “You couldn’t see from one beach cottage to the next. It was a mini-jungle.”

It was after a meeting in April 2011, however, that he really pushed his neighbors forward with fire-proofing Hidden Dunes.

“Brian (Goddin) and the district fire chief put on a communitywide fire mitigation seminar at the South Walton firehouse,” said Kern.

Kern said the meeting brought to light potentially devastating risks.

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