Published: Mar 11, 2013 1:13 AM EDT

CHARLOTTE COUNTY, Fla. - Firefighters and worried homeowners spent Thursday cleaning up from two brush fires in Charlotte County.

"I've never experienced nothing like that in my life. To feel the flames on your skin that close, you can watch it from a distance but when you're in the fire, it's a totally different story!" said Michael Julian.

The ground is still smoking a day after wind and fire tore through nearly 500 acres of a wooded area near Bermont Road and US 31.

"It's terrible, it looks like a black and white picture, like a war zone up there," he said.

The flames did not touch any residential homes, but did destroy a hunting shed and another building under construction.

"we were afraid that it was gonna come and just take everything. we actually drove through the flames to get back because we were getting surrounded by all flames," Julian said.

Now the smoke has cleared. Crews are extinguishing hot spots and residents are breathing easier.

"Totally relieved, just to know that everything is okay, everybody is safe." 

At one point flames threatened more than a dozen buildings. The cause of the blaze is still under investigation.