Five Mile Swamp Fire north of Interstate 10 grows to 250 acres

Posted on May 5, 2020 by Staff reports

Persistent winds, swampy terrain and dry surface vegetation hampered firefighting efforts most of the day Tuesday as 14 tractor/plow units from the Florida Forest Service worked to contain the Five mile Swamp Fire. The fire just south of the city of Milton grew to 250 acres and containment is at 30% as of 4 p.m.

Swamp fires such as this are notoriously difficult to fight as dry vegetation on the surface allows the fire to spread rapidly but a high water table means the soil just below remains wet and makes operating heavy bulldozers extremely difficult. Firefighters have battled these difficult conditions for two days and expect to remain with this fire for the next several. In addition to the tractor/plow units, a Florida Forest Service helicopter has been on scene since shortly before noon working to cool flare ups and hot spots dropping water from a 300-gallon bucket and a fixed-wing aircraft has been over head providing aerial reconnaissance.

Southerly winds have pushed the fire deeper into Five Mile Swamp and closer to the Ski Watch neighborhood and the area from Renee Circle to Audiss Road. Tomorrow’s forecast calls for winds out of the north and a drop in humidity which has prompted the National Weather Service to issue a Red Flag Warning for inland Santa Rosa County. These conditions will change the desired path of the fire and could potential lead to increased fire activity.

Residents and motorists will encounter lingering smoke and are asked to use caution while driving, treat it as fog and use their low-beam headlights. Motorists should pull safely off the road and wait for the smoke to disperse if conditions warrant.

The fire is north of Interstate 10, east of Avalon Boulevard and the former Moors golf course and south of the Santa Rosa County Landfill. The fire was sparked by an escaped prescribed burn conducted by a contractor on private land. No structures were threatened as the fire never got closer than half a mile from the nearest residences which were located along Ski Lane and surrounded by water. Structure protection crews were in place from Avalon and Bagdad fire departments as a precautionary measure.

The Florida Forest Service, a division of the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, manages more than 1 million acres of state forests and provides forest management assistance on more than 17 million acres of private and community forests. The Florida Forest Service is also responsible for protecting homes, forestland and natural resources from the devastating effects wildfire on more than 26 million acres. Learn more at