Bertha Swamp Rd fire still rages as state deploys more resources

BAY COUNTY, Fla. (WMBB) – The Bertha Swamp Road fire has spread to 14,132 acres and is 10% contained according to the Florida Forest Service.

Firefighters are doing everything they can to prevent the flames from spreading.

The Florida Forest Service deployed a number of bulldozers to help cut the flames.

However, Florida Chief Financial Officer and State Fire Marshal Jimmy Patronis said there is even bigger equipment out there to help quell the hell out.

“Some of the stuff I saw yesterday. It’s about the size of an SUV. What they bring is a lot bigger,” Patronis said.

And while the equipment brought in is a big help, the nature of the landscape after Hurricane Michael knocked down a large number of trees has slowed the process of accessing the flames.

“The bulldozer has to be able to go off a road where it can get off a trailer and then it has to go a certain number of miles and they don’t go 30 miles an hour, they have about 15 miles an hour, “, said Patronis.

The Florida Forest Service and National Guard are also fighting the blazes from the air.

They collect water and dump it on the fire to help cool the area.

“You don’t put out the fire with the water, what it does is create water vapor, bring the temperature up, lower the temperature of the gases,” Patronis said. “When you lower the temperature of the gases, it’s much harder for the embers to fly around and spread the fire.”

But this fire is highly unpredictable and officials said nearby residents should remain alert.

“We were in the Bear Creek area this morning. We had a few flare-ups. We are concerned about this area, so residents up there should be on alert to watch for potential outbreaks in this area,” Bay County Emergency Management Chief Brad Monroe said.

The Bear Creek area remains under a mandatory evacuation order as of Monday night.