SANTA ROSA BEACH — Lightning was likely the cause of a wildfire that spread across nearly 100 acres Monday and caused the evacuation of 25 homes in Walton County.
According to a press release from the Florida Forest Service, the Goldsby Road fire was ignited after lightning struck a tree, investigators determined.
“Looking through the area, down in the swamp, investigators saw a tree that was obviously hit by lightning,” Walter Bowers, forest area supervisor for the Florida Forest Service in Walton County, said in the release.
The Sheriff's Office reported the fire to the Forest Service at noon Monday. The wet, swampy terrain made it difficult to battle, the release said.
The wildfire spread between Mack Bayou Road and Goldsby Road. Aircraft provided intelligence while 11 bulldozers and the South Walton Fire District worked to contain the blaze by about 8 p.m., the Fire District said in a Facebook post.
Forest Service spokesman Joe Zwierzchowski said no one was injured and no homes were damaged.
Florida has the most lightning strikes of any state. Fires caused by strikes can take hours or even days to be detected. Typically, lightning strikes a tree or the ground and only a small, smoldering ember is the result. Usually, but not always, the embers are extinguished by following rain, the Forest Service said.