A wildfire in northwestern Florida has prompted officials to declare a local state of emergency and institute mandatory evacuation orders, officials said Friday. The Adkins Avenue Fire as of Saturday evening had grown to 1,500 acres and was 30% contained.
Six hundred homes have been evacuated, with two confirmed destroyed and 12 damaged, according to the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services. More evacuation orders were issued Saturday afternoon as the fire continued to spread, the Bay County Sheriff’s Office said. It wasn’t immediately clear how many additional homes were impacted.
Multiple agencies in Bay County and neighboring counties are responding to the fire. More than a dozen tractor plow units are on the ground, multiple helicopters are assisting from the air and more than 200 firefighters are battling the blaze, the Florida Forest Service said.
Those in areas from Transmitter Road to Star Avenue between Highway 231 and Highway 98 are under mandatory evacuations. An emergency shelter has been established for those asked to evacuate at Hiland Park Baptist Church, according to the Bay County Sheriff’s Office.
The Florida Forest Service said the Adkins Avenue Fire is burning in the area where Hurricane Michael felled 72 million tons of trees, which “serve as fuel for wildfires.” The service warned of an elevated statewide fire danger level coupled with “critically low humidity” for the weekend.
“Wildfires can have a traumatic effect on communities,” it said on Twitter. “Unlike hurricanes, there is little to no warning. Don’t wait for wildfire.”
Meanwhile, another nearby fire, called the Bertha Swamp Road Fire, grew to 3,000 acres on Saturday, according to the Florida Forest Service – Chipola Forestry Center. It’s not clear how much of the blaze is contained.
The cause of the Adkins Avenue Fire is under investigation.