Wildfires are currently burning in the Florida Panhandle’s swampland.
More than a dozen homes have burned down and at least 500 people were fored to evacuate.
The three blazes raging in northwest Florida have been exacerbated by winds and dry weather conditions.
One fire in Santa Rosa County, which tore through 2,000 acres and shut down nine miles of Interstate 10, was just 20 percent contained when officials gave a 9 p.m. press conference Wednesday night.
Nicknamed the Five Mile Swamp fire, the blaze began as a prescribed burn on private property Monday but it quickly went out of control.
Two other wildfires in the panhandle
The Hurst Hammock fire, which burned in nearby Escambia County, had burned 60 acres as of Wednesday and was 40 percent contained.
Live from Santa Rosa as the Five Mile Swamp Fire continues to burn closer to beachfront properties in Panama and Destin. #fivemileswampfire #panamacity #destin #santarosabeach #dailynews pic.twitter.com/sBnGRiq2EA— SpeakClear (@SpeakClear1) May 7, 2020
Another blaze in Santa Rosa County burned an additional 70 acres and was 20 percent contained.
The National Weather Service warned that low humidity, gusty winds and ongoing drought conditions could promote the fires, causing the agency to issue a red flag warning on Wednesday.
What is needed for a wildfire to start? Dry conditions and wind. Our forecast has the right amount of dryness and wind, especially in #SWFL. A Fire Weather Watch is in effect tomorrow for inland Lee and Charlotte counties. Be sure to do your part and follow local rules #flwx pic.twitter.com/qEth8Fs8Oq— NWS Tampa Bay (@NWSTampaBay) May 7, 2020
The region is five inches below its typical rainfall for the year, but pointed toward wind for Wednesday’s blaze.
“Pensacola’s drought condition is abnormally dry,” he said. “What made this (fire) today was the wind, to go along with the dry conditions and low humidity.“