Santa Rosa County joined other Panhandle counties on Thursday morning in implementing an immediate burn ban, following a week of devastating wildfires that destroyed 14 homes in Milton and burned more than 2,200 acres.


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The burn ban is effective immediately and will last until the county decides to repeal it, which could be at the next County Commission meeting or the next time the area sees substantial rainfall.


►RELATED: Five Mile Swamp Fire: More than a dozen homes destroyed


Santa Rosa County Emergency Management Director Brad Baker recommended the burn ban at Thursday morning’s County Commission meeting, saying the area has been under a high fire risk for the past week.


►RELATED: PHOTOS: Damage from 5 mile Swamp Fire in Santa Rosa County


“I do think a short-term burn ban is the right direction that we need to go in,” Baker said.



Two wildfires ignited in Santa Rosa County last week. The Acey Lowery fire burned 70 acres before being 100% contained, while the massive Five Mile Swamp Fire has burned more than 2,200 acres and was 97% contained on Thursday. The fire will likely not be fully contained until the area sees substantial rainfall.


►RELATED: PHOTOS: South Walton Wildfire in Santa Rosa Beach


Escambia County issued a burn ban late Wednesday afternoon, and both Okaloosa and Walton counties issued burn bans earlier this week.


The Florida Forest Service regulates and authorizes all outdoor burning, so any permit issued by the forest service would supercede Santa Rosa County’s ordinance. However, the forest service has not been issuing burn permits over the last week due to the low humidity, drought conditions and high fire risks.


Under a burn ban, residents are not permitted to burn yard debris, yard trash, camp fires, fire pits or other fire activities in their yards. The only acceptable fire is in an enclosed grill.


Annie Blanks can be reached at ablanks@pnj.com or 850-435-8632.