Rainfall helps with containment, but wildfire threat remains

The Bertha Swamp Road fire remains at a little over 33,000 acres after Wednesday’s heavy rainfall  helped firefighters establish containment lines not previously possible due to the fire’s extreme behavior.

The fire is now at about 20 percent containment, up about 10 percentage points from yesterday morning.

But the Florida Forest Service warns that with dry, windy weather returning this weekend, the wildfire threat remains.

“While the rain being seen now is good, increased winds and low humidity are expected this weekend, which means the wildfire threat remains and residents should be cautious,” the FFS wrote in a Facebook update Wednesday night.

According to Gulf County Emergency management, there has been more than 3.4 inches of rainfall over the fire since a storm system blew into the area early Wednesday morning.

But the Florida Forest Service reported Thursday morning that there had been no substantial changes to the Bertha Swamp Road fire or other are wildfires overnight, attributing the large amount of Hurricane Michael debris.

“There has been no substantial activity on the (Chipola Complex fires),” they wrote in their morning update. “While the significant rainfall has improved current conditions, the exponential volume of dead trees and vegetation left behind from Hurricane Michael will remain a wildfire threat in the Panhandle.”

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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