HOLT, Fla., May 6, 2020—Holt Fire District was one of eight Okaloosa County firefighting units that responded to the Five Mile Swamp fire in Santa Rosa County today.
Holt sent five firefighters and two vehicles, including its largest engine.
Other Okaloosa County districts that responded were Almarante, Baker, Blackman Crestview, Eglin Air Force Base, Fort Walton Beach and Ocean City Wright.
According to the Florida Forest Service, in addition to the Five Mile Swamp fire, there were two other fires in the district, one in Escambia County and a second fire in Santa Rosa.
Additionally, Walton County is also fighting a 550-acre fire.
A morning Forest Service news release stated 250 acres of the Five Mile Swamp fire had burned and was 40 percent contained.
By noon, that information was obsolete.
As of 8 p.m., more than 2,000 acres have burned with about a dozen structures south of Interstate 10 either damaged or destroyed, said Joe Zwierzchowski, public information officer for the Florida Forestry Service.
The interstate was closed midday between exits 31 and 22 in both directions and remains closed at present due to low visibility because of the smoke.
All traffic is being diverted to State Roads 87 and 281. Traffic on U.S. 90 through Milton has been heavy as a result.
The brush fire began Monday when a prescribed burn on private land got out of control. Zwierzchowski said the prescribed burn met all Forest Service parameters.
Unfortunately, weather conditions of significantly low humidity and drought-like conditions in rough terrain allowed the fire to expand beyond control, he said.
At present, electric power poles have been destroyed and power lines are lying on the ground in the areas south of I-10. People not affected by the fire will not have electricity tonight until Gulf Power has assessed the area and begins making repairs, according to Santa Rosa County officials.
More than 1,100 residences were requested to evacuate. The evacuation order is in effect until noon tomorrow when the situation will be reevaluated.
All were evacuated safely and there have been no injuries as of this evening.