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Fire concerns grow as drought conditions worsen in Bay County

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PANAMA CITY, Fla. (WMBB) — Hurricane Michael left behind thousands of fallen trees and heavy underbrush.

Northwest Florida has seen very little rain in the past week, and there are still slim rain chances ahead. Officials at the Emergency Operations Center are worried how this will impact the area.

Battalion Chief, Darrel Wise said given these dry conditions residents need to use common sense when dealing with fire.

“We ask that people are extremely careful when they burn things, the forestry dept has set forth burn regulations statewide,” Wise said. “Typically they are you can have a small fire on the property 8 feet in diameter. Some of the setbacks, are 25 feet from a roadway, 150 from anybody else’s house, 50 feet from your house and 50 feet from the roadway.”

Just this month, the forestry center has responded to 29 wildfires.

The emergency operations center advises homeowners to take the appropriate precautions.

“Don’t have a fire that they can’t control, make sure they have control efforts at the fire, such as a garden hose or a shovel,’ said Wise.

Chief Wise also said not to burn when the winds kick up.

“People that live in areas that are surrounded by woods, check for smoke in the area, fire in the area, let their nose helps them to be aware of things that are going on in the area. It may not be an individual that sets a fire, but a lightning strike could cause it,” said Wise.

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