ORANGE COUNTY, Fla - Central Florida fire departments are on the way to North Florida to help fight a massive wildfire.
The Statewide Emergency Response Plan (SERP) issued an activation order and now Orange County Fire Rescue has deployed an Engine Strike Team (EST) there to help with fire suppression.
"Deployments such as this represent the dedication that firefighters have for the citizens they protect, responding wherever they are needed regardless of jurisdiction," said Division Chief Michael Wajda.
The strike team headed to Bay County is made up of five fire engines, 22 firefighters, from Orange, Seminole, Osceola, Canaveral and St. Cloud.
Local reports say at least eight homes have been destroyed by the Adkins Avenue fire near Panama City in the Panhandle. More than 1000 families have been forced to leave their homes.
In total, there are three fires, the Bertha Swamp Fire, the Dogwood Way Fire and the Adkins Avenue Fire, have collectively burned more than 9,400 acres across Bay, Gulf and Calhoun counties.
Officials say there's no timeline for when evacuees will be allowed back into their homes. More than 200 firefighters from the Panhandle worked overnight to try and secure containment lines and protect homes.
The Orange County deployment could last three to five days. The firefighters are expected to be on the front lines to protect structures in the path of the wildfire.