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Five Mile Swamp Fire 75% Contained, County Transitions to Recovery Mode

Blackwater Forestry Service

The Five Mile Swamp fire 75% contained, a week after it started.

The fire reached a total of 2,215 acres, said Joe Zwierzchowski of the Forestry Service’s Blackwater office. 

While it is an improvement, Zwierzchowski said the area’s red flag warning – meaning high temperatures, low humidity and stronger winds – has firefighters still working harder to extinguish flames and prevent further spreading. 

“What we are doing to mitigate is we have firefighters within 50 feet of the containment line smoldering hot spots,” said Zwierzchowski.

There is not a burn ban in place in Santa Rosa County, however Florida Forestry Service is asking residents to refrain from burning debris at their homes until the wildfire is under control.

The red flag warning is in effect until 7 p.m. Monday and includes Escambia, Santa Rosa and Okaloosa counties. National Weather Service in Mobile reports winds around 10 mph and gusts 15 to 20 mph. The humidity range is 20 to 25%. 

As the fires nears total containment, some local fire agencies such as Santa Rosa County Fire Department have withdrawn. FFS, Florida Department of Environmental Protection and Northwest Florida Water Management are still on the scene. 

“The Forestry Service has people from throughout the state – as far away as the Everglades --  responding to the fire,” said Zwierzchowski. 

The fire has destroyed 14 homes and 22 ancillary buildings, such as pole barns. Santa Rosa County Emergency Management Director Brad Baker said a recovery group is being formed. 

“We’re in a transition to recovery,” said Baker.

There is no one at the Milton Community Center, which was designated as a shelter, at this time. A number of evacuees are staying at the Hampton Inn in Navarre. Those who need assistance can contact Red Cross of Northwest Florida by calling 1-800-RED-CROSS (1-800-733-2767) or by calling SAFER Santa Rosa at 982-0455.