UPDATE, May 7, 1:30 p.m.: Many of the residents evacuated due to the Five Mile Swamp Fire can cautiously make their way back to their homes as the wildfire is roughly 40% contained.
The more than 2,000 acre blaze has claimed at least 18 residences in the area south of Interstate 10 from Escambia Bay to Blackwater Bay, and assessments are still being done.
According to Santa Rosa County Emergency Management, 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.
Indian Bayou to Mary Kitchens Road and the houses along Mary Kitchens Road are a Level 2 evacuation, and residents may return to their homes but must be prepared to leave at a moment’s notice.
Power has not been restored to parts of the area along Garcon Point Road, and Gulf Power’s outage map showed at least 37 residences without power. Crews are working in the area.
More than 13 fire departments and emergency services are working alongside Florida Forestry Service and Santa Rosa County Emergency Management to contain the blaze.
UPDATE, May 7, 11 a.m.: Assessment of damage from the Five Mile Swamp Fire along Garcon Point Road shows 18 homes have been damaged by the the blaze.
Advisories to stay out of the area remain in effect, and a shelter at Milton Community Center is still accepting evacuees. The Santa Rosa County Citizen Information Center is open. Those who have evacuated or who have questions may call 850-983-INFO (4636).
Evacuated residents who need a place to house livestock may utilize the June Ates Arena/Agri-plex, 8604 Bobby Brown Rd. in Milton. Call Kyle Holley (850) 390-9808 for instructions.
Gulf Power is continuing to work to restore power to the effected area.
UPDATE, May 7, 9:30 a.m.: More than 2,000 acres and 13 homes have been burned in a wildfire located north of I-10 and east of Avalon Boulevard.
The Five Mile Swamp Fire has prompted evacuation orders for more than 1,100 residents said Santa Rosa County Emergency Management Director Brad Baker.
He emphasized that individuals should follow evacuation orders for their safety.
While the fire has not jumped any of the lines dug to contain the blaze, Baker said wind in the area could become a problem. Additional resources from outside the county have been brought in to assist in containment.
Todd Schroeder is a wildfire mitigation specialist with the Florida Forestry Service working the Five Mile Swamp Fire. He said containment is still estimated at about 20%.
“Today’s weather is somewhat improved,” he said, adding winds are light and variable. “We hope that helps us to catch up in some areas.”
Firefighters are working to fortify spread prevention lines both north and south of I-10. Efforts are also being made to protect homes in the area and to assess the damage.
Due to burned poles, much of the area is without power, and Gulf Power is working to restore electricity.
“We Will do our best to get people back in when it is safe,” Baker said.
Milton Community Center has been opened as a temporary shelter for residents needing shelter. Evacuations are recommended for residents south of Interstate 10 from Escambia Bay to Blackwater Bay. All residents south of I-10 to the Garcon Point Bridge are recommended to evacuate.
Evacuation orders are set to be reevaluated at noon today.
Additional updates will be shared as new information becomes available.
UPDATE: The Milton Community Center is available for sheltering and will be open by 4 p.m. Evacuations are recommended for residents south of Interstate 10 from Escambia Bay to Blackwater Bay. All residents south of I-10 to the Garcon Point Bridge are recommended to evacuate. Now is the time to act. Take your pets with you.
Gulf Power has shut off power from Garcon Point Road to Dickerson City south of Interstate 10 for the protection of the firefighters responding to the wildfire. An estimated time of power restoration is unknown.
Do not let COVID-19 prevent you from utilizing the community shelter if needed. If the community center is your best available refuge from the wildfire, follow CDC guidelines for physical distancing and disease prevention.
Two days after the Five Mile swamp fire began, the fire has grown to 250 acres and crews have it 40% contained. The fire is located north of Interstate 10, east of Avalon Boulevard and the former Moors golf course and south of the Santa Rosa County Landfill. The fire was sparked by an escaped prescribed burn conducted by a contractor on private land.
The Florida Forest Service has asked Florida Highway Patrol to close Interstate 10 all lanes from exit 22 at Avalon blvd to exit 26 at Garcon point road and now to exit 31 in Milton. The fire has spotted across the interstate and crews are working to contain the spot with tractor/plows and helicopters.
Based on projected weather patterns that will continue to support extreme fire behavior, evacuations are recommended for residents east of Avalon Blvd. to the Blackwater River, south of Interstate 10.