Fire damages San Marco restaurant

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Fire crews from Jacksonville Fire Rescue responded to a fire overnight at Layla's Mediterranean Grill - Bar and Hookah Lounge in San Marco.  It is officially being ruled "accidental".

The fire started around 3:19 a.m.  A fire crew coming back from another scene spotted the smoke, broke through the front door and was able to put out the fire before it spread to any surrounding buildings.

No one was inside the restaurant at the time of the fire, the last employee left at 1:30 a.m.

At this time the cause is unclear. Fire officials say the fire originated in a cabinet underneath the bar. The district chief on scene says there were no smoke detectors inside the restaurant.

Duval property values drop third year in a row

JACKSONVILLE, Fla.  -- The trend continues in Duval County with property values for tax purposes dropping for the third year in a row. 

Last month Property Appraiser Jim Overton certified the property value as being  $43.9 billion or 4.4% less than last year.

"We are almost back to 2002 prices in terms of real estate," said Overton who noted city hall stands to collect roughly $20 million less in property taxes.

The trend marks the third year where residential and commercial values dropped.

"I think next year will be better," said Overton who believes the bottom may be near.

Later this month, Mayor Alvin Brown will outline his spending plans for the upcoming year.  Brown has said he has no intentions to raise property taxes to cover the shortfall in revenue.


How to spot water damage in homes for sale after Tropical Storm Debby

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- When it's water versus homes, water usually wins. That was the case for many homes along the First Coast after Tropical Storm Debby hit.

First for you, if you're in the market for a home, there are easy ways to tell if there is water damage.

"The buyer should always go in and take a look themselves and they can see stains on the walls, maybe some evidence of water damage," said construction attorney Christopher Cobb.

But sometimes, you may need to do more. You may not see water damage, but the dangers are still there.

"If the air conditioning has been turned off, that mold will grow and cause some serious problems," Cobb said.

Camp for Children Coping with Homicide Receives Support from Community First Credit Union

JACKSONVILLE, FLA. – Community First Credit Union awarded a $1,000 Investing in You grant to Compassionate Families, Inc., to benefit Camp Maddie, its therapeutic camp that provides grief recovery and support services to children affected by homicide. Camp Maddie serves as a living memorial to Maddie Clifton, an eight-year-old Jacksonville girl who was brutally murdered by her young neighbor in 1998.

Debby shuts down roadways, causes sinkholes

First Coast News is compiling a list of all the streets and roadways underwater, closed or otherwise affected by what is now Tropical Depression Debby.

Officials are still assessing the situation from overnight, and drivers are encouraged to use extra caution and not drive through flooded areas.

Here is a list of roadways affected at this time:

FHP traffic information page

Florida Department of Transportation traffic information

Per JSO (For more information about Jacksonville area road closings, check JSO's Twitter account):

Duval County :

Imeson Road and Pritchard Road.

JEA fuel rates will decrease July 1

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Fuel rates for JEA customers will indeed be decreasing on July 1 and the scheduled water/sewer rate increases will not go into effect.

Florida's unemployment drops; Gov. Scott responds

Florida's unemployment drops; Gov. Scott responds


Governor Rick Scott responded to Florida's unemployment rate dropping to 8.6 percent in May 2012, down 2.3 percent since Governor Scott came into office and to its lowest point since December 2008:

"It is clear that the work we have done to lower the cost of doing business in our state by cutting taxes and reducing regulation is giving the private sector the confidence it needs to expand, grow and add jobs.  Florida's continued steady decline in unemployment shows that Florida is on the right track. I remain committed to growing private-sector jobs in our state by making Florida the No. 1 place for business so that every Floridian can have the opportunity for a job."