The Bertha Swamp Road Fire swelled to more than 28,000 acres Tuesday — doubling its size from a day earlier, Florida Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried said.

And the fire, the largest currently burning in the panhandle, is scorching land that’s covered by “thick, dry, and dead trees and vegetation left behind from Hurricane Michael,” the Florida Forest Service said.

“It’s the storm that keeps on giving and giving,” Florida’s Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis said Tuesday. “It’s like a ghost, we can’t get rid of the damn thing. If you look at the path of the storm that it has taken when it hit here in October of 2018, it’s the exact same path the fire is taking.”

The Bertha Swamp Road Fire was sparked in Gulf County and spread to Bay and Calhoun counties just east of Panama City, a popular tourist destination, fire officials have said. As of Tuesday, it was 10% contained.

Gov. Ron DeSantis activated a state of emergency in all three counties.

The Bertha Swamp Road Fire is one of three that comprise the Chipola Complex Fire, along with the Adkins Avenue Fire and the Star Avenue Fire, officials said. The complex fire has scorched more than 29,000 acres, according to an update from the forest service. Over the weekend, the fires forced nearly 1,100 homes to be evacuated, though all evacuation orders for the Adkins Avenue and Star Avenue fires have been lifted.

The Broad Branch community near Kinard in Calhoun County was evacuated Tuesday due to the Bertha Swamp Road Fire, officials said.

“Over the last few days, gusty winds have picked up in the early afternoon and lasted through the evening, causing erratic fire behavior. Weather conditions today are no different and forced additional evacuations in Calhoun County,” the forest service said. “While the weather forecast in the coming days calls for a possibility for rain, it will not be enough to decrease the wildfire threat any time soon.”

The Adkins Avenue Fire has burned through 875 acres and was 80% contained Tuesday, officials said. And the Star Avenue Fire has scorched 250 acres, also with 80% containment.

Overall, there are about 130 wildfires currently burning approximately 33,000 acres throughout the state, according to the forest service.

CNN’s Jamiel Lynch and Tina Burnside contributed to this report.



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