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Five Mile Swamp Fire: Blaze is 50% contained, 14 homes destroyed and 7 damaged

Pensacola News
Journal staff reports
Northwest Florida Daily News

Florida Forest Service wildland firefighters made progress yesterday Friday widening and improving the Five Mile Swamp Fire containment line, which is mapped at 2,153 acres and 50% contained.

Crews completed clearing containment lines on the north side of the fire over to the Ski Watch area. Firefighters also spent time in the community of Garcon Point Road searching for and extinguishing hot spots.

Evening crews did not observe any smoke from the fire on I-10 throughout the night

The goal for firefighters today is to patrol and begin mop up operations on the hot spots in the Ski Watch area. They will also focus on improving the containment lines near the neighborhoods on Garcon Point Road eliminating smoking areas with mop up operations and will continue to patrol the area.

Like the past few days, crews are splitting their time with fighting the second fire in the area — the 1,405-acre Hurst Hammock, which is 50% contained.

Crews had the Five Mile Swamp Fire about 50% contained Friday evening, but the fast-moving blaze destroyed 14 homes and damaged seven more earlier in the week, according to the latest update from the Florida Forest Service.

After a thorough assessment, the forest service verified 14 residential structures were destroyed and seven were damaged. Eight outbuildings were destroyed, and five outbuildings were damaged.

More definite mapping Friday placed the fire at 2,153 acres, according to the Florida Forest Service. Crews spent much of the day creating 30-foot to 40-foot containment lines on the north and northeast perimeter as the winds shifted that direction.

Meanwhile, the Hurst Hammock Fire in Escambia County has been mapped at 1,405 acres and 50% contained.

Air attack resources monitored fire activity on both wildfires Friday. Helicopters made 60 water bucket drops each for a total of 120 drops on the western perimeter of the Hurst Hammock Fire. Crews also spent time Friday widening and establishing new fire containment lines in that same area of the Hurst Hammock Fire.

Weather predictions for Friday night are calling for a 60% chance of precipitation and a slight chance of thunderstorms, which means there is an increased potential for lightning.

Winds will come from the southwest at 12-17 mph with gusts of 22 mph. Winds will then shift during the night from southwest to north/northeast. Saturday's weather calls for a drop in humidity levels down to about 29%, and winds will be northeast at 12-13 mph with gusts forecast up to 20 mph.

Santa Rosa County is still sheltering 11 people in area hotels Friday night as residents are being allowed back in to the previous closed area off of Garcon Point Road.

The previously closed area affected about 340 homes, according to Santa Rosa County spokesperson Brandi Bates.

Fourteen homes have been destroyed and one home partially damaged, Bates said.

At the height of the fire, 1,100 homes were under evacuation orders.

On Thursday, the county allowed most people back in their homes asked residents to stay alert in case the fire picked back up.

Areas closed to the fire along Mary Kitchens Road and Garcon Point Road south of Interstate 10 are being asked to be prepared to leave their homes at a moment notice.

Only residents are allowed to return to the hardest hit area off of Garcon Point Road.