CALHOUN COUNTY, Fla. (WMBB) — Florida Forest Service said the Bertha Swamp Road Fire was 20 percent contained as of Wednesday evening.
The fire continues to burn despite three to four inches of rain coming to our area. While the rain did help the firefighters, officials said the fight is far from over.
“Even with the rainfall… There is a potential for this fire to flare back up simply because behind this rain and the cold front that’s coming in, there is going to be some dry weather coming in,” Florida Forest Service Public Information Officer Melanie Banton said.
She said there could still be pocked of heat buried in the interior of the fire.
“They will continue to monitor that area and put out any hotspots they find,” Banton said. “It could be weeks, months into the future.”
Just because the Hurricane Michael fuel is now wet, doesn’t mean it will stay that way.
“We have been able to work a little bit harder inside of that fire, however after this rain goes and it starts to dry, things will start to heat back up and those wet items – those wet fuels will start to dry back out and if there’s any heat left in there, it could potentially flame up,” Banton said.
Banton said some people may still see smoke in the area.
Bay County Chief of Emergency Services Brad Monroe said they’re going to continue to monitor the fire while also attending to other emergencies in Bay County.
“It means that we have to not let our guard down, to watch this thing and not forget about it,” Monroe said.
Banton and Monroe said they expect the weather to change drastically. Banton also said people should adhere to burn bans despite the recent rain.
Monroe said they expect to send the out-of-town firefighters back home on Thursday. He said they may keep one task force here, then reevaluate everything on Friday.