Northeast Florida counties sending crews to help fight raging Panhandle wildfire

DeSantis heads to area to get update on 2,000-acre Santa Rosa Five Mile Swamp Fire

News4Jax reporter, Ashley Harding, joins us to discuss a raging wildfire that has burned hundreds of acres in the Florida Panhandle.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – A team of Jacksonville firefighters arrived in the Florida panhandle early Thursday morning to help fight what is now a 2,000-acre wildfire, according to Jacksonville Fire Rescue. The crew is comprised of five fire engines and a chief officer.

According to Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry, the state requested Jacksonville’s help to put out what they’re now calling the Santa Rosa Five Mile Swamp Fire.

Flagler County, Clay County and St. Johns Counties also announced on Thursday they were sending crews to held battle the fires.

Fire officials reported that the latest estimates show the fire is only 20% contained. The fire has also burned several buildings, though an exact count hasn’t been taken yet.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis said Thursday morning on Twitter that he’ll be heading to the Panhandle to get an update from officials in person.

Fire danger this time of year isn’t limited to the Panhandle. The Florida Forest Service shows Duval and Nassau counties are currently considered “very high risk” areas. The surrounding counties are under a “high risk” category.

On Wednesday, Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried and the Florida Forest Service issued a warning about wildfire dangers in the state because of dry and windy conditions.

A news release pointed, in part, to possible gusty conditions in the Panhandle and the Big Bend region and said parts of Central Florida and all of South Florida will be under a “fire weather watch” on Thursday afternoon.

“Fire danger has increased throughout the state due to windy conditions and critically low relative humidity over the coming days,” said the news release issued by the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, which includes the forest service.

It also said the forest service has battled nearly 1,100 wildfires since January, with 97 percent caused by people.

“Due to the elevated fire threat, I am urging the public to avoid yard debris burning,” State Forester Erin Albury, the director of the forest service, said in a prepared statement. “We are in the peak of our year-round fire activity, and these weather conditions will only add to the existing fire danger.”

The News Service of Florida contributed to this report.


About the Author:

Ashley Harding joined the Channel 4 news team in March 2013 and reports every weekday for The Morning Show.