Baldwin County firefighters to assist in battling wildfires in Santa Rosa County Saturday

Northwest Florida

UPDATE (5:02 p.m.) — Baldwin County firefighters plan to assist Santa Rosa County in battling the wildfires Saturday morning.

We are sending equipment and personnel to assist Santa Rosa County tomorrow morning to assist with the wild fires.  Department assisting will be Robertsdale, Bon Secour, Belforest, and Barnwell.  I’ll try to send photos of the trip.  We will leave Loves in Loxley at 0600 in the morning. 

Chief Roy Glenn, Barnwell Volunteer Fire/Rescue

UPDATE (4:49 p.m.) — New numbers concerning the five mile swamp fire indicate that 14 homes and 8 outbuildings were destroyed while 7 homes and 5 outbuildings were damaged.

UPDATE (2:55 p.m.) — The Florida Forest Service provided a midday update regarding the the wildfires in Escambia and Santa Rosa County.

Full media release from the Florida Forest Service:

Florida Forest Service wildland firefighters crews are observing an increase in active fire behavior today due to the increase in wind speeds and wind gusts. Winds are prevailing from the south/southwest at 13-18 mph gusting up to 25 mph which has increased fire activity on the north/northeast perimeter of fires. The 5 Mile Swamp Fire which is still ~2,180 acres and 35% contained. The Hurst Hammock Fire is ~1100 acres and 40% contained.

Additional Florida Forest Service personnel and equipment from throughout Florida continue to arrive to assist with the firefighting efforts. Resources currently include 185 personnel (115 Florida Forest Service), 30 dozers, 26 engines, and two medium helicopters assigned to both of these wildfires. Residents are reminded not to fly drones at this time. Drones interfere with air support, forcing helicopter operations to stay grounded and impeding firefighting efforts.

According to a tweet from the Florida Highway Patrol“I-10 in Santa Rosa County is open. FHP and partners will be monitoring fire conditions closely. Use caution.”

According to a recent press release from Santa Rosa County Emergency Management, the previously closed evacuation zone is now open to residents only (see attached map). Everything on Garcon Point Road east to the Blackwater Bay from I-10 south to Mary Kitchens Road including Garcon Point Road. This area reopens at a Level 2 meaning residents must be prepared to leave at a moment’s notice. Law enforcement check points will be in place at Garcon Point at I-10 and Avalon Blvd. as well as Garcon Point at Robinson Point Road. Residents must show a photo ID (preferable a driver’s license with an address matching the residence).

Citizen Information Center
The Santa Rosa County Citizen Information Center is open. Those who have evacuated or who have questions may call 850-983-INFO (4636).

UPDATE (5/8/2020 2:20 p.m.) — The area being evacuated due to threats form the Five Mile Swamp fire is now reopen to residents.

Everything on Garcon Point Road east to the Blackwater Bay from I-10 south to Mary Kitchens Road including Garcon Point Road is open to residents only.

This area reopens at a Level 2 meaning residents must be prepared to leave at a moment’s notice. Law enforcement check points will be in place at Garcon Point at I-10 and Avalon Blvd. as well as Garcon Point at Robinson Point Road. Residents must show a photo ID (preferably a driver’s license with an address matching the residence).

  • Level 1 – Everything south of Mary Kitchens Road on Avalon and Garcon Point Road, and on the west side of Avalon is at a Level 1 evacuation, meaning residents can return to their homes but need to stay aware. Level 1 also extends up to Da Lisa Road.
  • Level 2 – Indian Bayou to Mary Kitchens Road and the houses along Mary Kitchens Road as well as Robinson Point Road to Oakview Drive are a Level 2 evacuation and may return home but must be prepared to leave at a moment’s notice. Note that Robinson Point Road can only be accessed from the entrance north of I-10 where it connects with Warren Road.

UPDATE (5/8/2020 11:55 a.m.) — Interstate 10 in Santa Rosa County is back open as crews continue to battle the Five Mile Swamp Fire.

According to a tweet form FDOT, future closures between Avalon blvd. and SR 87 could be issued if necessary.

ORIGINAL STORY (5/8/2020) SANTA ROSA COUNTY, Fla. (WKRG) –Fire crews from across the state are continuing to fight the Five Mile Swamp Fire day and night.

The fire, which has been burning for four days, is 35% contained and covers about 2,000 acres.

Santa Rosa County in conjunction with the Florida Forest Service are still assessing the number of damaged structures. Crews are focusing on holding, controlling, and monitoring fire containment lines and improve control lines where needed.

Crews extinguish flames on a power pole from the Five Mile Swamp Fire

All lanes of I-10 are still closed until further notice. Crews are expected to be out for the next few days as they work to get the fire fully contained.

Some evacuation orders were lifted and eased Thursday morning, but some are still in place.

  • Closed – Everything on Garcon Point Road east to the Blackwater Bay from I-10 to Mary Kitchens remains closed.
  • Level 1 – Everything south of Mary Kitchens Road on Avalon and Garcon Point Road, and on the west side of Avalon is at a Level 1 evacuation, meaning residents can return to their homes but need to stay aware. Level 1 also extends up to Da Lisa Road
  • Level 2 – Indian Bayou to Mary Kitchens Road and the houses along Mary Kitchens Road are a Level 2 evacuation and may return to home but must be prepared to leave at a moment’s notice.

More than a dozen homes have been destroyed in the fire. Several cars also destroyed. Gulf Power has been restoring power where they can. More than 70 power poles have burned, Gulf Power is also now working to replace those.

The fire started after a prescribed burn on private land escaped, despite meeting all criteria.

Evacuated residents who need a place to house livestock can use the June Ates Arena/Agri-plex, 8604 Bobby Brown Rd. in Milton. Call Kyle Holley (850) 390-9808 for instructions.

The Florida Forest Service used helicopters for water bucket drops on the northern perimeter of the fire.

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