Florida Forest Service

Florida Forest Service

Residents in Escambia, Santa Rosa, and Okaloosa counties are advised to refrain from any type of outdoor burning for the next several days.

It’s getting dry out there.

That’s the word from the Florida Forest Service’s Blackwater Center, thanks to a cold front that’s bringing a change in the weather.

“It will feel like fall; breezy and quite cool,” said Eric Esbensen, a meteorologist at the National Weather Service in Mobile. Daytime temperatures will be in the mid-70s this weekend, with lows in the low- to mid-40s.


Residents across the Florida Panhandle are getting out of the house, cleaning up the yard, and burning the debris. WUWF’s Dave Dunwoody reports the Florida Forest Service is out with its annual reminder, that this is the driest time of the year -- meaning the most wildfire-friendly.

So far this year, 543 wildfires across Florida have scorched almost 14,000 acres, according to FFS.

Photo via Flickr// Caoimhin G / https://flic.kr/p/6GaKJV

  For many northwest Florida residents, it’s time to get out and clean up the yard and burn the debris. The Florida Forest Service is out with its annual reminder, that this is the driest time of the year -- and the most wildfire-friendly. 

So far this year, Florida Forest Service reports nearly 2,400 wildfires statewide, burning more than 74,000 acres. In the Blackwater District -- Escambia, Santa Rosa and Okaloosa Counties -- 100 blazes have scorched 636 acres as of Friday.

Florida Forest Service

Wildfire Awareness Week kicks off Monday, reminding Floridians to be careful when burning outdoors.

Wildfire Awareness Week was created in the aftermath of Florida’s devastating wildfires of 1998, which burned more than a half million acres and also damaged or destroyed 337 homes and buildings. Human-caused wildfires are the leading cause on the local, state and national levels.

Joe Zwierzchowski at Forestry’s Blackwater Office, which covers Escambia, Santa Rosa and Okaloosa Counties, says their message is that it’s up to all residents to prevent wildfires.

Florida Forest Service

Firefighters with the Florida Forest Service’s Blackwater District had a busy Martin Luther King holiday weekend, thanks in large part to low humidity and backyard burns gone wrong.

The largest of the blazes scorched 20 acres in Okaloosa County and the cause remains under investigation. Another ten acres were burned when a debris fire escaped a yard. Joe Zwierzchowski in the Blackwater office says measures to keep home debris fires under control are basically common sense and in the form of rules and regulations.

Florida Forest Service

Officials with the Florida Forest Service are urging those planning to burn yard debris in the next few days to use extreme caution.

Residents throughout the three-county Blackwater District,Escambia, Santa Rosa and Okaloosa, may see smoke from prescribed burning operations. Conditions are favorable; with wind speeds topping 10 mph and humidity levels falling to the 30% range.


For many, this is the ideal time of year and the ideal weather to go out and burn yard debris. The Florida Forest Service is warning residents planning such burns to use extreme caution.

No rain, dropping humidity and a rising fire danger level are in the forecast for the time being in the three Blackwater counties: Escambia, Santa Rosa and Okaloosa.

“It’s going to be another dry week it looks like,” said Joe Zwierzchowski, Blackwater’s Information Officer. “We’ve got some potential for rain the middle of this week, but it’s going to be spotty at best.”

Photo via Flickr//Jason Kriess, Washington National Gaurd

The Florida Forest Service has sent firefighters from around the state to three western states, to help battle wildfires and that number includes some local personnel.

Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam, who oversees the state’s forest service, points to the current low wildfire danger levels in Florida for being able to lend support. So far this season, Florida has deployed 52 wild land firefighters to western states. The latest group includes eight from the western Panhandle’s Blackwater District, which includes Escambia and Santa Rosa counties.

Sandra Averhart / WUWF Public Media

About 180 area residents, concerned about the possibility of increased military training in the Blackwater River State Forest, filled the Bagdad Recreational Facility in Santa Rosa County Thursday night for the final public hearing on the Air Force plan.

Photo via Flickr//Ben Watts

This is Wildfire Awareness Week in Florida, during a time of the year when firefighters are working to minimize risk to homes, businesses and residents. So far this year, more than 500 wildfires have blackened about 9,000 acres statewide.  

Wildfires generally occur in the spring and early summer months due to a lack of rainfall, low humidity and strong winds combined with increased yard burns. There have been 61 blazes in the Blackwater District of the Florida Forest Service – which covers Escambia, Santa Rosa and Okaloosa Counties – that have burned just over 3,200 acres.

The Air Force is hosting two public town hall meetings this week to discuss proposed plans for military training in the Blackwater River and Tate’s Hell State Forests.  The first town hall to be held Wednesday, Dec. 11 at the Milton Community Center will focus on the Blackwater River State Forest.

“Well, we want to make sure the public has a good understanding of what we’re trying to accomplish,” says Mike Spaits, Environmental Public Affairs Officer for Eglin Air Force Base.