Gulf County issues burn ban in response to elevated fire threat

At a special meeting on Tuesday, the Board of County Commissioners unanimously voted to put an open-ended burn ban in place to cover Gulf County until substantial rainfall eliminates the heightened fire threat.

Their decision comes a little less than a week after a wildfire consumed about 115 acres of land in Indian Pass before it was contained on October 5.

“My recommendation would be if the board would do a burn ban and just leave it open ended and allow me and the chairman to consult and decide when we need to drop it again,” said County Administrator Michael Hammond at the special meeting. 

“I would want to drop it as soon as possible because I know people don’t like to be burdened with government overreach, but this is a life safety issue. Again, it could have been a lot worse last week, and if we don’t get measurable rainfall it’s only gonna get worse.”

No outdoor fires are allowed in the county until the ban is lifted. Grills may only be used for cooking food. All outdoor burning of yard trash, household paper products, bonfires, campfires, warming fires, outdoor fire places, chimneys, fireworks and cooking fires within Gulf County are prohibited.

For updates about the burn ban, visit the Gulf County, Florida Emergency Management Facebook page.

It has now been more than three weeks since it has rained in Gulf County. This, paired with lower than normal humidity and breezy conditions has contributed to an especially heightened threat of fires.

Though the fire in Indian Pass has been the largest in recent weeks, the Florida Forest Service has reported responding to at least three more fires in the county since September 28.

Rain is forecast for Wednesday and Thursday, but Hammond said it is unlikely to be enough to overcome the deficit of a month without rainfall.

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 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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