A wildfire that consumed 200 acres in Indian Pass last week was caused by an illegal debris burn, according to the Florida Forest Service.
The wildfire, which grew from 20 acres in wet, swampy terrain, burned for just over 24 hours before being 100 percent contained.
No homes were damaged or destroyed and no one was injured as fire crews battled the wildfire.
The terrain was difficult enough that the Florida Forest Service used an airplane to assist with access points to the fire.
At one point, the Service had five heavy bulldozers, four medium tractor-plow units and a fire engine on the scene and used a Bambi bucket and helicopter to drop water on hot spots.
In the days following the fire, with a deepening dry spell spiked with high temperatures across North Florida, the Florida Forest Service stopped issuing permits for outdoor burns in a number of Northwest Florida counties, including Gulf.
“A prolonged dry spell has put the Florida Panhandle at an escalated risk of wildfire,” said Mike Mathis, Forestry Center Manager for the Chipola Forestry Center. “The longer and hotter days create a combination that allows fire to spread very quickly.”
The decision on permits is at the state level, noted County Administrator Michael Hammond Tuesday, while adding he would recommend commissioners consider a county burn ban during a special meeting today.
“It is dangerously dry,” Hammond said.
Hammond said he would recommend commissioners put a burn ban in place until such time that the county receives a meaningful amount of rain.
One resident suggested commissioners should consider a fireworks ban with the Fourth of July approaching.
The Florida Forest Service urged residents to be cautious with any burning outside.
A few safety tips include never leaving a fire or heat source unattended and completely extinguishing until it’s dead out.
Follow the required setbacks and be extra cautious as low dry conditions and higher temperatures can cause a fire to escape quickly. Always keep a charged water hose handy to douse any fire that might flare up. Call 911 immediately if your fire escapes for quick firefighters’ response.