Two days after a brush fire broke out on Big Pine Key, eventually burning more than 100 acres, Christine Dalton-Godlewski still can't return to her home.
"I hightailed it out of there. I grabbed my daughter and my dog," she said Tuesday, recounting the tall flames in her backyard on Sunday afternoon. "It's so amazing our house didn't burn up."
It's still a dangerous neighborhood off 18th Street, she said, and her insurance agent said her family could be displaced, living at a Key West hotel, for up to two weeks.
Dalton-Godlewski, 46, a financial analyst, says she is one of the lucky ones: Her raised home avoided the three feet of water that seeped into her lot during Hurricane Irma last September. So far, her home is safe from the burning embers that continue to threaten houses.
For many residents of Big Pine, the brush fire is another blow after Irma pounded the island.
"I just want to weep," Dalton-Godlewski said, about Big Pine. "So many people are living in RVs on their property and still so many homes don't have roofs. Even I forget and I live here."
"Irma is still a significant fact for 30 percent of the people who live on Big Pine," Dalton-Godlewski said.
By Tuesday night, the brush fire was still only halfway contained. It remains a threat to homes because it consumes such a large area of the island, Monroe County officials said Tuesday.
Containment means there is a barrier the fire won’t likely cross. Due to the small, gravel roads and combination of residences and rural areas, it's difficult to make the area 100 percent contained until the fire is completely out.
Firefighters once again worked through the night on the fire, which broke out at about 2 p.m. Sunday and rapidly spread through neighborhoods. On Tuesday, 46 firefighters from seven agencies worked to quell the flames.
With high temperatures, dry conditions and winds shifting directions, county officials expect more flare-ups of burning embers.
"Some areas that may not have had smoke before may see some today," said Cammy Clark, the county's spokeswoman.
Unified Command met early Tuesday morning and identified 30 homes that are in the affected area.
"Fire crews are working proactively to protect them, as well as to keep the fire from spreading," Clark said.
Clark once again reminded locals and others not to go into wooded areas affected by the brush fire.
"This is for your own safety, so you will not hamper the fire-suppression operations," she said.
Helicopter crews Tuesday continued to drop on wooded areas 800-gallon loads of water that weigh 7,000 pounds. If the water lands on a person, it could be fatal, Clark said.
Also, if the helicopter pilots see any people in the vicinity of the target area, they will not drop the water.
"This will delay efforts to put out the fire and could allow the fire to grow bigger," Clark said. "Anyone who goes into the wooded areas may be arrested if they hamper firefighting efforts."
Dalton-Godlewski said her family heard no fire engines or sirens on Sunday afternoon. Instead, friends burst into their homes to tell them a brush fire had erupted. Her neighbor's home was engulfed.
As she evacuated to Key West, her husband, Steve, stayed behind to fight the fire. Friends showed up and grabbed water hoses and they sprayed around the property for eight to 10 hours.
By 4 p.m. Sunday, their Rubbermaid shed melted down to four inches tall. One friend had her flip-flops melt away.
"The ground is that hot," Dalton-Godlewski said.