According to the Florida Forest Service, a wildfire that began in northwest Gulf County on Friday is now burning more than 8,000 acres and has spread into Bay and Calhoun counties.
On March 5, Gov. Ron DeSantis declared a state of emergency in all 3 counties.
At this time, the fire is forcing evacuationd in the Bear Creek neighborhood of Bay County, near Youngstown.
No evacuations have been ordered in Gulf or Calhoun Counties at this time.
The fire is currently traveling north and west, and winds are expected to slow slightly Saturday night before picking up again in the morning, which experts hope will give firefighters the opportunity to gain some ground.
Humidity will be higher for the next few days, but rainfall is not expected before Tuesday.
The Florida Forest Service is deploying additional personel on Sunday, and the Florida National uard is deploying four helicopters to help with wildfire suppression in the Panhandle.
Those who are in evacuation zones and are homebound or need assistance should call 850-248-6030.
“It’s roughly 10 percent contained,” said Joe Zwierczhowski, a representative of the Florida Forest Service.
“We’re making progress, but the fire is growing at basically the same rate that we’re gaining ground on it, so it’s kind of a stalemate.”
Zwierczhowski urged residents in the fire’s path to heed local evacuation orders.
“If anybody is on the fence about evacuating, they really need to county emergency personell, structure firefighters, and if they’re asked to leave, they should leave.”
According to the Florida Forest Service, 150 wildfires are currently burning more than 12,000 acres statewide, including another large Bay County fire, dubbed the Adkins Avenue Fire.
The Adkins Avenue Fire has forced evacuations for all of residences between Transmitter Road and Star Avenue, south of 231 and north of Highway 98.
“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.
A pet-friendly shelter is open at the Bay County Fairgrounds.
This report will be updated as more information becomes available.