Florida’s Panhandle burns

Firefighters helping with water lines at the Adkins Avenue Fire. Photo courtesy of newsherald.com

Massive wildfires in the Florida Panhandle burned an estimated 800 acres when it first occurred, according to the Bay County Emergency Services. This forced nearby schools to shut down and locals to evacuate.

According to the Florida Forest Service, the leading fire, Bertha Swamp Road Fire, has been raging this past weekend and was at 14,000 acres. The fire has expanded and is now spreading at a fast pace leaving containment remains at 10%.

Gov. Ron DeSantis toured the damage and met with local officials where he was able to address Florida’s request for Fire Management Assistance and the community on next steps in a recent news release.

“We will continue to support Bay County residents while first responders work diligently to contain the fire,” said Governor Ron DeSantis. “Residents in Bay County should ensure their safety by continuing to follow all orders from local officials while the fire remains active.”

The Florida Department of Emergency has reported eight homes that have been swept by the fire and have caused more than 1,000 homes to evacuate. The governor did issue an Executive Order 22-55 that declared a state of emergency in Bay County.

Florida A&M University student, Tiffany McNabb is someone who has family that have been affected by this wildfire that is spreading.

“My sister’s house is uncomfortably close to the fire,” said McNabb. “The whole family had to evacuate. She just moved into her house four months ago after the hurricane and it hurts to see my sister going through this.”

A second fire, near Panama City, the Adkins Avenue fire which also started this past Friday. According to a Bay County Spokeswoman, the fire was reportedly caused by debris in a backyard.

Adkins Avenue forced more evacuations and has burned 875 acres and left contaminate remains at 50%.

Brittany Uriarte, a Bay County resident said that the fire left her family no choice but to evacuate.

“The Adkins road fire caused a mandatory evacuation in my neighborhood and several others,” said Uriarte. “My Husband and I just bought our house. We never expected a wild fire to threaten us and our home.”

“Fire activity is increasing in the #AdkinsAvenue Fire in Bay County as winds pickup and fan the flames,” tweeted by FFS Chipola.

The last fire, Star Ave Fire, illuminated near Tram Road and has burned 250 acres. It is now 60% contained, causing roadblocks.

Sam Peebles, an Air National Guard, had trouble getting to his destination due to the fire.

“I couldn’t drive to my weekend duty due to the path being blocked. It’s crazy because I am able to see the smoke for days even 6-10 miles away from the fire, it’s that much smoke,” said Peebles.

In Florida, there are nearly 160 wildfires making its way through more than 18, 500 acres and more than 200 firefighters throughout Bay County diligently working this fire.

It is advised by the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services for residents to remain vigilant of present wildfire activity.