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Rain over a massive wildfire in northwest Florida helps cool flames, but fire size remains unchanged

 Firetrucks drive toward smoke from a massive wildfire in rural Calhoun County on Tuesday, March 8, 2022.
Valerie Crowder
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Firetrucks drive toward smoke from a massive wildfire in rural Calhoun County on Tuesday, March 8, 2022.

More than three inches of rain fell last night over a massive wildfire in northwest Florida, but the fire hasn't gotten smaller.

Update 9:41 a.m. CST: The Florida Forest Service issues an emailed statement about the conditions of the wildfires after overnight rain:

"While the significant rainfall has improved current conditions, the exponential volume of dead trees and vegetation left behind from Hurricane Michael will remain a wildfire threat in the Panhandle. The Chipola Complex is the largest wildfire since Michael hit the area in 2018. Without additional notable rainfall, the debris on the ground will dry out quickly and serve as fuel for wildfires."

A live map of the wildfires is available here.

A map of the Chipola Complex's wildfires as of Thursday morning.
U.S. Wildfire Map
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A map of the Chipola Complex's wildfires as of Thursday morning.

Update at 8:15 a.m. CST:

More than three inches of rain fell last night over a massive wildfire in northwest Florida, but the fire hasn't gotten smaller.

The Berth Swamp Road Fire was burning 33,131 acres this morning. The fire remains 20% contained. "There is still heat in the interior and smoke continues to be seen," said Melanie Banton with the Florida Forest Service. The fire is burning in Bay, Gulf and Calhoun Counties.

The Adkins Avenue Fire in Bay County was burning 185 acres and is 85% contained. The Star Avenue Fire, which broke out in the county on Sunday, is 197 acres and 95% contained.

The three fires make up the Chipola Complex, fires burning in the same general area and assigned to a single incident command unit. The Florida Forest Service's Blue Incident Management team assumed command over crews working to contain the fires on Monday.

No evacuation orders are in effect in Bay County. A burn ban is in effect for Bay, Gulf and Calhoun Counties.

The Bertha fire has forced evacuations in Calhoun County. More than 1,700 inmates were relocated from the Gulf Correctional Institution in Wewahitchka to prisons in Carrabelle and Chipley on Tuesday night.

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Valerie Crowder is a freelance reporter based in Panama City, Florida. Before moving to Florida, she covered politics and education for Public Radio East in New Bern, North Carolina. While at PRE, she was also a fill-in host during All Things Considered. She got her start in public radio at WAER-FM in Syracuse, New York, where she was a part-time reporter, assistant producer and host. She has a B.A. in newspaper online journalism and political science from Syracuse University. When she’s not reporting the news, she enjoys reading classic fiction and thrillers, hiking with members of the Florida Trail Association and doing yoga.