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'Numerous structures' destroyed after as firefighters battle 2,000-acre blaze in Florida Panhandle

Florida Wildfires
santa rosa county fire
Posted at 4:30 PM, May 06, 2020
and last updated 2020-05-07 11:05:21-04

SANTA ROSA COUNTY, Fla. (WTXL) — High wind and extremely low humidity have helped the Five Mile Swamp Fire grow to almost 10 times the size since it started on Monday.

As of 10:00 AM ET, the fire is estimated at 2,000 acres and is 35 percent contained.

Winds upwards of 20 mph have driven embers across I-10 and approximately 12 buildings, including homes, have been lost to the fire.

I-10 remains closed between Exit 22 at Avalon Boulevard and Exit 31 at Highway 37, per the Florida Highway Patrol.

The Florida Forest Service continues to aggressively fight the fire with 18 tractor/plow units, three helicopters and a significant number of resources from multiple fire departments throughout the county. Firefighters will continue to work towards stopping this fire for the next several days.

Residents south of I-10 and east of Avalon Blvd. have been asked to evacuate and Santa Rosa County has a shelter process established. The evacuation order will run through noon Thursday and be reevaluated at that time. Residents seeking shelter should contact Santa Rosa County at 983-INFO.

In light of these conditions, officials with the Blackwater Forestry Center are not issuing burn authorizations in Escambia, Santa Rosa or Okaloosa Counties.

The fire started just east of the former Moors golf course when a prescribed burn on private land escaped Monday afternoon. Winds and terrain pushed the fire to the northeast toward the area between Renee Circle and Audiss Road just east of the Santa Rosa County Landfill.

WALTON COUNTY:

Florida Forest Service firefighters are also battling a wildfire in Walton County.

As of 10:00 AM EST, the fire is estimated at 575 acres and is 60 percent contained.

The Florida Forest Service has deployed 15 tractor plow units and 2 engines, and is also working with local fire departments; 2 additional dozer strike teams are en route.

Approximately 500 residents have been evacuated, and approximately 33 structures have been lost to the fire. Highway 98 has been closed at this time due to fire operations. The State of Florida has requested FEMA FMAG assistance.


Evacuations are being recommended for residents south of I-10 in Milton after a 250-acre fire shut down parts of I-10.

Santa Rosa Emergency Management officials say firefighters have been working to put out the blaze, named the Five Mile Swamp Fire, for two days but conditions brought on by a cold front passing over the area made conditions worse.

Wednesday afternoon, the Florida Forest Service said I-10 was closed from Garcon Point Road to Avalon Blvd because the fire was throwing embers across the highway, the smoke in the area making driving conditions dangerous.

Evacuations are recommended for residents south of I-10 from Escambia Bay to Blackwater Bay and all residents south of I-10 to the Garcon Point Bridge.

The fire is estimated at 250 acres and crews have it 40% contained.

The fire started just east of the former Moors golf course when a prescribed burn on private land escaped Monday afternoon. Winds and terrain pushed the fire to the northeast toward the area between Renee Circle and Audiss Road just east of the Santa Rosa County Landfill.

"Firefighters established a line around the entire fire Tuesday but significant unburned vegetation remains inside the perimeter," Santa Rosa Emergency Management wrote in a press release.