7:00 PM UPDATE: Bay County emergency officials have released an updated map including the areas that are under a mandatory evacuation.
The areas under mandatory evacuation include: the area between Transmitter Rd. and Star Ave. and south of Hwy 231 to US 98 (Tyndall Pkwy.) It also includes Bear Creek, area south of Scotts Ferry Rd. and east of Hwy 231.
The map also shows the areas where active fires are. The map is below:
Bertha Swamp Road fire 6:00 PM Update
Wildfire Damages 6:00 PM Update
5:30 PM UPDATE: Bay County and forestry officials said they are bringing in resources from across the state to fight two large wildfires that are threatening homes in the area.
On Friday, firefighters battled the Adkins Road Fire. As they continued to deal with that blaze, an 8,000-acre fire from Gulf County, the Bertha Swamp Road fire, has gotten so large it has forced evacuations in the Bear Creek area of Bay County.
“This is a big, big fire,” said Brad Monroe, Bay County’s Chief of Emergency Services. “We’re talking 8,000 acres at this time.”
He added that lots of large equipment is coming from across the state. That includes task forces and strike teams from Jacksonville, assets from the western part of Florida. And, 19 engines, six tankers, and eight brush trucks are in service right now.
“I want to assure you we are doing everything we possibly can to protect your home,” Monroe added. “We need your help.”
He urged residents to get out when an evacuation is called and not to return home until officials deem it safe. A shelter is open to humans and animals at the Bay County Fairgrounds.
“We still have a very dangerous situation,” Monroe said.
Residents should call ahead if they are bringing large animals. The information hotline is (850) 248-6090. The Dothan agriculture center is available for large animals as well.
Current Evacuation Areas:
Pipeline Road to the dead end
Springfield area east of Transmitter
Bear Creek area: South from Scott’s Ferry Road on the east of Highway 231. South Bear Creek, North Bear Creek, Veal Road, and the Ed Lee Road area.
“There is really not a lot between the fire and the Bear Creek area to stop that fire,” said Sheriff Tommy Ford.
4:45 PM UPDATE: Bay County officials have issued mandatory evacuations for Ed Lee Road to Scott’s Ferry Road east of Highway 231.
Fire officials said the Bertha Swamp Road fire has pushed through heavy, downed trees from Hurricane Michael. It is six to eight miles southeast of the evacuation zone and throwing spot fires out in front of itself.
County and forestry officials urged those in the evacuation zone to leave now.
“This is a very, very rapidly evolving situation,” said Valerie Sale, the spokeswoman for Bay County.
Those who need information can call (850) 248-6090. Those with special needs or are homebound and need assistance evacuating can call (850) 248-6030.
A pet-friendly shelter is open at the Bay County Fairgrounds.
4 PM UPDATE: Residents on Ed Lee Road and Tree Farm Road are under a mandatory evacuation.
Law enforcement is on the ground fire and law enforcement personnel are on the ground in the area as the #BerthaSwampRoadFire moves into Bay County.
Gov. Ron DeSantis has extended Florida’s state of emergency to include Calhoun and Gulf counties.
3:45 PM UPDATE: Bay County officials have issued a mandatory evacuation for parts of Springfield and are urging residents in the Bear Creek area to be ready to leave if a Gulf County fire sweeps into the area.
Evacuees can go to the Bay County Fairgrounds and pets are welcome. Dry weather and windy conditions are causing wildfire problems across the Panhandle. A burn barn is in effect for most counties in the area.
“These fires are growing massive because of dry weather,” said County Spokeswoman Valerie Sale.
The Gulf County fire is known as the Bertha Swamp Road fire and was being monitored by Gulf County officials. It was in an unpopulated area and was not a concern earlier today but has started to threaten homeowners in Bay County, officials said.
“We’re watching that very closely,” Sale said. “It’s about 10 miles away.”
Bay County has set up a hotline for people to call about the wildfire: (850) 248-6090
You can watch the full interview below.
3:00 PM UPDATE: ALL OF SPRINGFIELD EAST OF TRANSMITTER IS UNDER AN IMMEDIATE MANDATORY EVACUATION ORDER. EVACUEES MAY GO TO THE BAY COUNTY FAIRGROUNDS. Pets will be accommodated.
Due to the potential threat presented by the #AdkinsAvenueFire, everyone located in the City of Springfield east of Transmitter Road, south of US 231, and north of Tyndall Parkway are asked to evacuate immediately.
12:00 PM UPDATE: BAY COUNTY, Fla. (WMBB) — According to AlertBay, Bylsma Estates is under a mandatory evacuation.
Law Enforcement is going door to door in the Bylsma Estates due to heavy smoke and embers. If you have not evacuated you will be asked to do so.
11:00 AM UPDATE: PANAMA CITY, Fla. (WMBB) — Florida Governor Ron DeSantis was joined by state and national leaders Saturday morning to give an update on the 1,400-acre wildfire in Bay County.
The group of leaders praised firefighters and first responders for their efforts Friday to save lives and homes.
“You never want to evacuate your home but because of what they did most of these folks are going to have homes to go back to,” Gov. DeSantis said.
He added that state resources, including the Florida National Guard, were ready to be deployed to Bay County if needed. He added that the shelter at Hiland Park Baptist Church was pet-friendly and that if anyone else needed to evacuate, they should feel comfortable bringing their critters.
He also warned drone operators to refrain from flying while workers continue to battle the blaze.
State Fire Marshal Jimmy Patronis, who is also the state’s CFO and in charge of regulating insurance companies, urged residents impacted by the blaze to go ahead and start insurance claims.
Florida’s Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried also praised forestry workers and first responders.
“We know that we saved a lot of homes last night,” she said.
A burn ban is in effect in Bay County and officials have been urging residents not to burn anything including something as small as an outdoor cooking fire.
“Please, please, please do not burn in your backyards.”
Sheriff Tommy Ford urged evacuees to be patient while firefighters and forestry continue to monitor the fire. Ongoing concerns about dry conditions and wind have forced officials to keep an evacuation in effect.
“We know that’s a tremendous inconvenience,” Sheriff Ford said.
He added that those who have not been evacuated but who live near the fire need to be vigilant.
“We don’t need to get complacent,” Sheriff Ford said. “They need to have a go-bag ready. As in the case yesterday, there was literally less than a minute to evacuate some of these areas.”
Gov. DeSantis also spoke to evacuees Saturday when asked when they would be allowed to return to their homes.
“Whenever they say it’s safe,” he said. “But you don’t want to say, ‘Everyone go back,’ and then you have to re-evacuate them.”
Gov. DeSantis added that during a tour he and other officials took of the impacted areas officials could see slow-burning embers, “pretty close to some of the houses.”
While Bay County residents can see clear skies Saturday morning, the wildfire seems far from over.
“We may be in for a long haul,” Ford said. “We’re a resilient community and we’re a close community. We take care of each other.”
Meanwhile, FEMA announced Saturday that they have authorized federal funds to help battle the wildfire.
“On March 4, the state of Florida submitted a request for a Fire Management Assistance Grant (FMAG) for the Adkins Avenue Fire. At the time of the request, the fire threatened more than 1,000 homes in and around Bay County. The Adkins Avenue blaze started March 4 and has burned more than 1,400 acres of state and private land. Approximately 2,500 people have evacuated,” they wrote. “FEMA Region 4 Administrator Gracia B. Szczech approved the state’s request on March 4, as the fire threatened to become a major disaster.”
8:00 AM UPDATE: PANAMA CITY, Fla. (WMBB) — Firefighters, forestry workers, and dozens of first responders continued to battle a growing 1,000-acre wildfire in Bay County Saturday.
These are the latest updates:
Gov. Ron DeSantis is scheduled to speak to the public at 10 am according to a news release from his office.
He’ll be joined by CFO and State Fire Marshall Jimmy Patronis, FDACS Commissioner Nikki Fried, Congressman Dr. Neil Dunn, Representative Jay Trumbull, Representative Brad Drake, FDEM Director Kevin Guthrie, FDEM Bay County Director Frankie Lumm.
News 13 will carry the news conference live.
Bay County Emergency Services 8 am update:
The fire is 1,400 acres and growing. It is 39 percent contained. More than 200 firefighters from across the panhandle are on the ground. The evacuation order is still in effect. Residents are not allowed to go back home.
“Please be patient as first responders battle this dangerous fire,” officials wrote.
Drones should no5 be flown near the fire as helicopters and planes are in the air battling the blaze. A burn ban remains in effect.