A burn ban has been issued for Walton County. Bay, Okaloosa and Santa Rosa counties are still considering the option.

On Tuesday, Walton County became the first area among four local districts to issue a burn ban.

According to Florida Forest Service officials, Bay, Okaloosa and Santa Rosa counties haven't jumped on the bandwagon yet, but are considering the option as conditions become more dry.

"We are reaching some thresholds that typically we would recommend that they enact burn bans, but we're just not there yet," said Joe Zwierzchowski, wildlife mitigation specialist for Okaloosa, Santa Rosa and Escambia counties.

Although the FFS is the wildland fire response agency of Florida, it's ultimately up to commissioners to vote a legitimate burn ban into effect, he added.

"A lot of times they'll reach out to us to see how we feel about it ... (but) we don't get into the decision making when it comes to the county commissions," said Steve Weherley, a wildlife mitigation specialist whose district includes Walton and Bay counties.

He and Zwierzchowski agreed that it would take a substantial amount of rain to get the Panhandle back on track.

"If we saw widespread rainfall of a quarter of an inch, that would be significant, but that's if you are already receiving normal rain," Zwierzchowski said. "At this stage, we're going to need one of those nice, long three-day rains."

In the meantime, the FFS has restricted prescribed burns and permits for fires bigger than eight feet in diameter in all four counties, they said.

In areas under a ban, residents will be ticketed for any "fire that's not a barbecue grill," Zwierzchowski added.

"Whether there's a burn ban in place or not, right now we're asking people to not burn," he said. "We're not issuing authorizations to trained professionals. That should be a significant warning sign to residents that now is just not a good time to burn."