Point Washington State Forest prescribed burn gone awry, now contained

January 30, 2017

Fire ablaze along U.S. Hwy. 98 in South Walton. Lori Ceier/Walton Outdoors

It was a nail biting few hours on Jan. 30 for South Walton residents as a prescribed burn in the Point Washington State Forest grew out of control.

The prescribed burn by Florida Forest Service personnel was slated for an area on the south side of U.S. Hwy. 98 between CR 393 and U.S. Hwy 331. Shortly after 2 p.m., unexpected winds out of the Southwest drove the fire quickly towards U.S. Hwy. 98 and jumped over the highway to a wooded area just east of the South Walton Publix shopping center.

South Walton Fire District was called in to assist with the blaze in the heavily wooded area, along with the Walton County Sheriff’s Office assisting with traffic control.

As of 6 p.m. the fire is 100 percent contained according to Hannah Anderson, mitigation specialist with Florida Forest Service, Chipola District. Interiors of the fire lines may continue to burn throughout the night.

“The unexpected southwest wind shift also affected prescribed burns in Bay, Jackson, and Gulf counties. At this time of year, westerly transport winds are not notably those that are shifting winds. Today however, many counties experienced a sudden, unpredicted shift in winds causing control problems for prescribed fires, campfires, pile burns and yard trash/debris burns,” said Anderson.

For additional information, contact Hannah Anderson at (850) 625-6621. To learn more about all the variables that go into a “prescription” for a burn, click here.