Red flag warning issued for potential wildfires in Escambia, Santa Rosa counties

The National Weather Service in Mobile, Alabama, issued a red flag warning Tuesday afternoon recommending against outdoor fires in Escambia and Santa Rosa counties.

Approaching weather changes that combine low humidity levels and strong winds could lead to out of control fires in the area, according to the warning.

"A combination of strong northerly winds, low relative humidity, and dry fuels will contribute to extreme fire behavior near the coast ... and across Escambia, Santa Rosa, Okaloosa and Walton counties on Wednesday," the warning states.

It has been more than two weeks since most of the three-county area (Escambia, Santa Rosa and Okaloosa counties) has seen rainfall and wildfire danger is on the rise, according to the Florida Forest Service's Blackwater Forestry Center. Add to that a forecast calling for increased winds and low humidity for the next three days and firefighters are bracing for the possibility of significant fire activity.

"With the conditions — dry and windy — any new fire has the potential to become a problem," said David Smith, operations administrator for Blackwater. "The southern-most end of our area received some rainfall Monday evening, but we are very dry with no rain in the extended forecast."

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The red flag warning is issued until 7 p.m. Wednesday.

Current forecasts call for low humidity (below 35% during the day) for the next several days and north winds up to 20 mph. No burn authorizations will be issued for prescribed burns or pile burns until conditions improve and residents are asked to refrain from any outdoor fire activity for the time being.

Benjamin Johnson can be reached at or 850-435-8578

This article originally appeared on Pensacola News Journal: Escambia, Santa Rosa under red flag alert for wildfire conditions