Chipola Forestry Center wildfire update

WALL OF FLAMES across U.S. 98. (Walton County Emergency Management Photo)

From Florida Forest Service 

The Florida Forest Service has responded to multiple wildfires this month. Abnormally lower rainfall and humidity levels combined with higher winds have contributed to extreme fire behavior conditions. As a result, Wildland firefighters operating in the Chipola Forestry Center have already experienced 16 wildfires, 5 illegal burns, 9 smoke complaints and numerous other incidents. 

Washington and Holmes Counties have recently enacted burn bans prohibiting all outdoor burning. Additionally, other county governments in the area are beginning to discuss local open burning regulations. These bans will continue until weather conditions improve. 

The Florida Forest Service was notified of a new fire off Basswood Road in Gulf County yesterday afternoon. This Fire is currently 160 acres burning in heavy timber blown down by Hurricane Michael. These conditions are causing difficulty in fire line construction. Escaped yard debris burning led to this wildfire which put smoke issues over Mexico Beach late into the evening. Firefighter have the fire 70% contained as they continue making fire line improvements. 

The Mussett Bayou fire remains to be 85% contained at 343 acres. This fire was ignited by an illegal material burn in South Walton County which led to 34 destroyed homes and numerous other property damages. Firefighters from several agencies remain on scene improving fire lines and performing mop up duties. 

A shelter was established at South Walton High School for those residents who evacuated. 

The Glendale Road fire in Washington County is 100% contained totaling 125 acres. The Florida Forest Service will continue to monitor this incident until the situation is determined controlled. A wildfire cause and determination is still under investigation by the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services. 

The Florida Forest Service, Chipola Forestry Center, will continue to cease burn authorizations in Bay, Calhoun, Gulf, Holmes Jackson, Walton and Washington. Counties until conditions improve. 

The Florida Service, a division of the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, manages more than 1 million acres of state forests and provides forest management assistance on more than 17 million acres of private and community forests. The Florida Forest Service is also responsible for protecting homes, forestland and natural resources from the devastating effects of wildfire on more than 26 million acres. Learn more at www.FDACS.gov\FLFloridaForest.