UPDATED: Forestry battling 8,000 acre northwest Gulf County wildfire

Update 4:52 p.m.: The fire is now reaching 8,000 acres. Officials say it is still at about 10 percent containment.

Update 3:17 p.m.: The fire, which now spand more than 4,000 acres, has now spread into Bay and Calhoun Counties, according to representatived from Gulf County Emergency Management. No homes in Gulf County are threatened at this time.

Update 5:07 a.m. CT:  As of early Saturday morning, Florida Forestry is reporting that the Big Bertha Swamp Fire has grown to 1,600 acres and is about 10 percent contained.

Florida Forest Service firefighters are now battling the fire near Big Bertha Swamp off of Highway 22, according to an announcement from Gulf County Emergency Management on social media.

The fire, dubbed the Bertha Road Fire, which started Friday afternoon, has burned mostly swamp land. No evacuation orders have been given at this time.

According to representatives from the Stone Mill Creek Fire Department, no structures are believed to be in imminent danger. 

In a tweet Friday afternoon, the Florida Forest Service in Chipola said that 9 tractor-plow units and a helicopter had been deployed to fight the then 100-acre fire.

On Saturday morning, Representatives from the Florida Forest Service said that there were 12 tractor-plows working on the fire.

“This fire is in heavy hurricane debris, which is slowing firefighting efforts,” FFS Chipola wrote.

There are 143 wildfires currently burning about 4,700 acres statewide. 

About 20 miles West of the Big Bertha Swamp Fire, a 1,400 acre wildfire  in Bay County has caused the evacuation of more than 600 people. 

Representatives from the Stone Mill Creek Fire Department said that local firefighters were on standby to assist with protecting structures should the Big Bertha Swamp fire pose a threat.

Earlier, North Gulf fire departments issued a warning to Gulf County residents, calling for them to refrain from outside burns after responding to and extinguishing a woods fire near Our Town Road.

This report will be updated as more information becomes available.

Meet the Editor

Wendy Weitzel, The Star’s digital editor, joined the news outlet in August 2021, as a reporter covering primarily Gulf County.

Prior to then, she interned for Oklahoma-based news wire service Gaylord News and for Oklahoma City-based online newspaper NonDoc.com during her four years at the University of Oklahoma, from which she graduated in May with degrees in online journalism and political science.

While at OU, Weitzel was selected as Carnegie-Knight News21 Investigative Fellow among 30 top journalism students from around the country. She also was senior editor managing a 12-person newsroom in coordination with Oklahoma Watch, a non-profit news organization in eastern Oklahoma.

Wendy Weitzel The Star Digital Editor

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