Adkins Avenue Fire evacuees return home, assess damage


PANAMA CITY — Magnolia Hills subdivision residents slowly trickled back into their neighborhood Monday evening after being evacuated since Friday as the Adkins Avenue Fire threatened their neighborhood.

Wildfires tore through Bay County over the weekend, forcing more than 1,100 homes to be evacuated. In the Magnolia Hills neighborhood alone, two homes were destroyed and 12 were damaged.  

As residents received the alert that it was safe to return Monday afternoon, they held their breath as they drove back to the houses they were forced to leave behind. 

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It was bittersweet for Ricardo Betancourt, who returned home Monday night.  

Betancourt and his family went to stay at Hiland Park Baptist Church, which opened its doors to the residents. They then moved on to the Marriott for a few days to give space to those who needed it more.

While his house didn’t sustain any damage, seeing the damage to the neighborhood he has grown to love and admire was heartbreaking.