MILTON, Fla. (AP) — Florida firefighters were working to hold containment lines around a 2,000-acre (809-hectare) fire in the state’s Panhandle, where winds were expected to shift Friday and push it toward homes.
The firebreak was about a half-mile from a neighborhood, officials said. While no evacuations have been issued, they urged residents to be ready to leave their homes should they be given the word to do so.
“People should be prepared and be ready,” said Ludie Bond, a spokeswoman for the Florida Forest Service.
Daniel Felder escaped flames Wednesday when the fire invaded his neighborhood near Milton, Florida, where fire crews were staging to combat the fire from a church parking lot.
The Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services reported that the 2,000-acre (809-hectare) fire in Santa Rosa County, just east of Pensacola, is 35% contained. That fire forced the evacuation of 1,100 homes Wednesday, though a few of those residents have been allowed to return to their homes.
A stretch of Interstate 10, northern Florida’s main transportation artery, remained closed in both directions near Pensacola because of smoke.
A 575-acre (233-hectare) fire in Walton County prompted about 500 people to evacuate. Fire officials said it was 70% contained.
There have been no reports of injuries or deaths.
Officials said 13 homes were destroyed so far in the Santa Rosa fire dubbed the Five Mile Swamp Fire. Because of the coronavirus pandemic, some evacuees were sent to nearby hotels to avoid potential problems with crowding.
Sgt. Rich Aloy, with the Santa Rosa County Sheriff’s Office, was patrolling Wednesday when he and other deputies rescued an older couple trapped by a burning power line. The possibly live wire blocked the two-lane, tree-lined road as smoke engulfed the area. Aloy said he and his deputies just happened upon the couple as they yelled for help.