Scaling up: Firefighters get training handling reptiles

ID=76751126ST. AUGUSTINE, Fla. -- As more people have exotic pets and more people move to Florida and encounter wild animals, firefighters are getting more interesting calls for help.

The St. Augustine Fire Department is choosing to trains its staff so they will know how to better handle animal calls, especially when they are the first on the scene.

This week, at the St. Augustine Alligator Farm, firefighters are training with alligators and snakes because they never know what they'll find on the job.

The training course gets firefighters up-close and personal with venomous and non-venomous snakes and alligators.

St. Augustine horse farm on verge of closure

ID=76693210ST. AUGUSTINE, Fla. -- A St. Augustine horse farm has one holiday wish this year: donations. Without them, the farm will be forced to close down and potentially euthanize a third of its horses.

The Diamonds in the Rough horse farm is tucked away in the woods behind World Golf Village. It's a place where abused, neglected and abandoned horses rehabilitate.

Many of the horses are descendants from Triple Crown winners, including Seraphina. She is the granddaughter of Secretariat, the race horse that in 1973 became the first U.S. Triple Crown in 25 years. Seraphina raced too but she wasn't as skilled as her family members and turned into a starving horse.

Man behind mystery light bulb in St. Augustine's Nights of Lights comes forward

ST. AUGUSTINE, Fla. — Mystery solved!ID=76633622

Two weeks ago, First Coast News reported about a mystery man who has been – for years – quietly putting up light bulbs of different colors amidst the millions of white light bulbs in St. Augustine's Nights of Lights.

Now the mystery man has come forward.

He is Bob Mangels.

"I was the guy who operated the bucket truck," he said.

Hotel boom happening in St. Johns County

ST. JOHNS COUNTY, Fla. — A hotel boom is taking place in St. Johns County.

Hundreds of new hotel rooms are expected to be added to the market in the next three years, according to the St. Augstine, Ponte Vedra and The Beaches Visitors and Convention Bureau.

All over St. Johns County, new hotels are under construction or slated for construction. In addition, existing hotels are getting renovated or rebuilt.

Man shot 3 times by relative at St. Augustine gun range

ST. AUGUSTINE, Fla. — A 62-year-old Georgia man has been hospitalized after an 'accidental' shooting at a St. Augustine gun range Friday, authorities said.

Aaron Acklan, 62, of Darien, Ga. was listed in stable condition at last check, according to the St. Johns County Sheriff's Office.

The shooting happened just before noon at Ancient City Shooting Range located at 3021 Range Drive.

St. Augustine to tackle flooding on bayfront

ST. AUGUSTINE, Fla. — In downtown St. Augustine, the streets often flood when it rains.ID=76442360

But more and more this year, people are noticing the roads are flooding when it is not raining.

Diane Boyd works at Mary's Harbor View Café on Avenida Menendez just across from the water in downtown St. Augustine.

It's a popular street in St. Augustine between the fort and the Bridge of Lions. She said it's been flooding more frequently this year along the street.

Water builds up in the parking spaces along both sides of the road. The fort parking lot also flooded this week.

Families continue tradition of spending Thanksgiving in the great outdoors

ST. AUGUSTINE, Fla. — At Anastasia State Park, the camp sites are all booked for the Thanksgiving holiday weekend.ID=76428634

A good chunk of the camp sites are occupied by a group of more than 50 friends who come out here every year for Thanksgiving.

The Skielnik family was one of the founding families of this Thanksgiving tradition.

"We started coming to St. Augustine in 1989 with another family. Neither of us had families in Florida at the time in the late 80's when we both moved from the north," Sam Skielnik said.

And so those families decided to camp out for the holiday. Now there are more than 50 people in this group.