Disasters & Accidents

Florida forest fires remain active, threatening homes

Miami, Mar 6 (EFE).- At least 20 forest fires of different sizes remain active on Sunday in Florida, mostly in the northwestern part of the state, where they have burned more than 9,400 acres, with heavy winds threatening to drive the flames toward hundreds of homes, the Florida Department of Emergency Management said.

Local media, including NBC Channel 7, reported that the fires dubbed the Bertha Swamp Road and Adkins Avenue blazes are burning 9,400 acres of forest and scrubland in the state’s Panhandle region, the northwest portion of the state where Hurricane Michael destroyed 72 million tons of trees in 2018.

According to Channel 7, the risk of the fires’ spread is elevated throughout the state, based on an updated map provided by the Florida Forest Service (FFS), where one can see about 20 red fire zones spanning the Florida peninsula.

“#BerthaSwampRoadFire remains active this morning. We have 17 (bull)dozers on the 8,000-acre fire, and it’s 10% contained. Additional FFS resources, as well as 4 helicopters from the @FLGuard, are en route,” the FFS station located in Chipola said on Twitter.

The FFS Chipola station serves the Florida counties of Bay, Calhoun, Gulf, Holmes, Jackson, Walton and Washington.

In addition, the station said that since Friday helicopters have dumped more than 103,000 gallons of water to try and fight the Adkins Avenue Fire.

“Fire activity is increasing on the #AdkinsAvenueFire in Bay County as winds pickup and fan the flames. The fire remains at 1,400 acres and 30 percent contained. Evacuations remain. Residents are urged to be vigilant and protect themselves,” said the FFS station.

In a statement the FDEM on Saturday said that it had asked the Federal Emergency Management Administration (FEMA) for additional assistance to handle the blazes.

At the time the request was made, the Bertha Swamp Fire, Dogwood Way Fire and Adkins Avenue Fire were burning more than 9,400 acres in Bay, Gulf and Calhoun Counties and these fires – taken together – form the Chipola fire complex, the statement added.

Florida’s Republic governor, Ron DeSantis, who on Saturday at a press conference said that he was not surprised by what was occurring, on Friday had declared a state of emergency for Bay County.

The FDEM said that the governor also issued an executive order to guarantee that state and local governments have enough time, resources and flexibility to respond to the fire and take measures to save lives.

More than 1,000 homes have been affected by evacuation orders so far and eight houses have been destroyed by the fire, although no fatalities have been reported, the FDEM said.

EFE jip/eat/bp

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