PORT. ST. JOE, Fla. (The Port St. Joe Star) — At a special meeting on Tuesday, the Board of County Commissioners unanimously voted to put an open-ended burn ban in place to cover Gulf County until substantial rainfall eliminates the heightened fire threat.

Their decision comes a little less than a week after a wildfire consumed about 115 acres of land in Indian Pass before it was contained on October 5.

“My recommendation would be if the board would do a burn ban and just leave it open-ended and allow me and the chairman to consult and decide when we need to drop it again,” said County Administrator Michael Hammond at the special meeting. 

“I would want to drop it as soon as possible because I know people don’t like to be burdened with government overreach, but this is a life safety issue. Again, it could have been a lot worse last week, and if we don’t get measurable rainfall it’s only gonna get worse.”

No outdoor fires are allowed in the county until the ban is lifted. Grills may only be used for cooking food. All outdoor burning of yard trash, household paper products, bonfires, campfires, warming fires, outdoor fire places, chimneys, fireworks and cooking fires within Gulf County are prohibited.

For updates about the burn ban, visit the Gulf County, Florida Emergency Management Facebook page.

Following 29 days without rainfall, it has now been more than three weeks since it has rained in Gulf County. This, paired with lower than normal humidity and breezy conditions has contributed to an especially heightened threat of fires.

Though the fire in Indian Pass has been the largest in recent weeks, the Florida Forest Service has reported responding to at least three more fires in the county since September 28.

Rain is forecast for Wednesday and Thursday, but Hammond said it is unlikely to be enough to overcome the deficit of a month without rainfall.