Wildfires force evacuations in Florida

Wildfires force evacuations in Florida

Wildfires force evacuations in Florida

A 575-acre (233-hectare) fire in Walton County prompted about 500 people to evacuate.

Firefighters in the Florida Panhandle have been battling wildfires that forced some 1,600 people to evacuate from their homes, and a stretch of Interstate 10 remained closed in both directions Thursday morning due to smoke, authorities said.

Florida Forest Service officials said with all the wildfires in the panhandle, resources are spread thin.

According to the Florida Forest Service (FFS), the Five Mile Swamp Fire in Santa Rosa County was spreading quickly because of high winds and low humidity, with winds recorded at more than 20 miles per hour pushing the flames over a local highway and causing the fire to multiply in size by Wednesday night. Officials said a few of those residents, in areas south of Interstate 10 have been allowed to return to their homes.

Officials closed parts of I-10 Wednesday, in part because smoke made it hard for drivers to see, the state transportation department said.

There have been no reports of injuries or deaths in either of the fires. The agency predicts a shift in winds and drop in humidity could make battling the fire more hard. A fire weather is also in effect for Hendry, Glades and the immediate coastal area of east-coast counties, the National Weather Service in Miami said.

"What made this (fire) today was the wind, to go along with the dry conditions and low humidity", Cullen said.

The foundation of a house in all that remains in the aftermath of the Five Mile Swamp Fire that is still burning near Milton, Fla., Thursday, May 7, 2020.

She continued, advising citizens to prepare for evacuation by packing a bag with necessities, like important paperwork and medicine, as a contingency plan for a rapid evacuation as the firefighters battle the blaze.

Firefighters were expecting winds to shift and pick up on Friday, adding to the fire's erratic behavior.

More than 500 people had to be evacuated from the area, with multiple buildings lost.

Some people who were evacuated from other areas are also getting back into their homes after a long night of uncertainty.

On Thursday morning, Walton County Emergency Management said on Facebook that the blaze was 60 percent contained.

About 12 structures have been lost, Fried said.

Felder felt fortunate to escape. The home got singed.

"I knew there was a fire, but it still looked far away", he said. "Suddenly it was there".

A wildfire was approaching, and they knew it was time to leave. He put his cat, shoes and phone in an aluminum boat, and he and his landlord waded into neck-deep water. "I had never been through anything like this".

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