Monday, March 27

Three wildfires burn in Bay County, what you need to know

PANAMA CITY, Fla. (WJHG/WECP) – Three wildfires burn in Bay County Sunday evening, causing evacuations across the county.

Before we break down the details of each fire here are things you need to know. This information is constantly changing and we update as we learn new details.


Clifford Chester Sims Veterans Nursing Home has been evacuated. Residents have been taken to the Bay County Fairgrounds or to local hospitals, according to Bay County Emergency Officials.

The Bear Creek community, located east of Highway 231 and south of Scotts Ferry Road to South Bear Creek Road area, is under a mandatory evacuation.

The area between Transmitter Road and Star Avenue and south of Highway 231 to U.S. 98 (Tyndall Pkwy.).


The Bay County Fairgrounds has been designated as a shelter for those who have had to evacuate their homes. That address is 2230 15th Street.

According to a Facebook post from Tyndall Air Force Base, the Air Force Aid Society is providing $600 grants to families who qualify. The grants can be used for lodging, gas, and food for families who are affected by county-mandated evacuations with a financial need. To qualify, you must be active-duty, guard and reserved regardless of duty status, retirees, or a spouse with power of attorney. To apply, call the local on-call AFAS liaison at 850-866-7530 or click “apply for assistance now” at


Bay District Schools announced three schools will be closed Monday. Those schools are Tommy Smith Elementary, Waller Elementary School, and Merritt Brown Middle School. All other BDS schools will be open.

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Gulf Coast State College will have classes Monday, but officials say if a student has been impacted by the wildfires, they need to reach out to their instructors.


The wildfire reported Sunday off of Star Avenue is estimated to be 163 acres and is 45 percent contained as of 4 p.m. Sunday. Florida Forest Service Officials say four tractor plow units and multiple helicopters assigned to the Adkins Avenue Fire responded as soon as this fire was reported. They say stiff winds fanned the flames and pushed the fire toward nearby communities.

An evacuation order was issued for Chester Sims Nursing Home due to this fire.


After days of poor visibility due to the smoke, firefighters were able to see better Sunday when some of the smoke cleared out and tell us they could map the Adkins Avenue Fire better. The fire turned out to be a few hundred acres smaller than first believed, now at 841 acres. The fire is 35 percent contained.

The evacuation orders connected with this fire have not been lifted at this time, nor has a timeline been given as to when residents can go back to their homes.


The Bertha Swamp Road Fire is approximately 9,000 acres and 10 percent contained. This fire began in Gulf County and spread to neighboring Bay and Calhoun Counties. Authorities in Gulf County tell us no homes are threatened in that area, but this fire did cause evacuations in Bay County.


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The Deer Point Lake Reservoir is closed to boaters from the Deer Point Dam to High Point Park. Water drafting operations will be conducted from the reservoir by National Guard air units. The closure is from sunrise to sunset and will remain in place daily until further notice.


We’ve had many phone calls and messages sent to our newsroom about how the local community can help.

Bay County Emergency Officials say please go to to donate money to help our impacted residents or to sign up to volunteer. At this time they say they do not have the ability to manage physical donations right now. You can click “Donate” on, text DONATE to (850) 783-4311, or checks can be mailed to Rebuild Bay County at PO Box 306, PC 32402. Please specify Wildfire.

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