Budget conference: House budget chief says Panhandle wildfires will shape budget talks
Image via Bay County Emergency Services.

bay county
'Looks like it may be a busy wildfire season, which is a scary thing.'

The Bay County wildfires will likely play a role in the judgment of House and Senate budget chiefs as they carry out negotiations, House Appropriation Chairman Jay Trumbull acknowledged late Saturday evening.

When asked at conference by reporters, Trumbull said budget negotiators are indeed “looking for opportunities to put resources” into the state’s “agriculture silo.”

“Looks like it may be a busy wildfire season, which is a scary thing,” Trumbull added.

A Panama City Republican, Trumbull’s remarks come as emergency workers battle a 1,400 acre wildfire within his district.

The fire is growing, and rapidly. The Florida Forest Service is encouraging motorists and residents to remain clear of the area.

More than 600 homes have been evacuated. Meanwhile, two structures have been destroyed and 12 structures were damaged, authorities confirmed Saturday afternoon.

Trumbull returned to Tallahassee at roughly 2 p.m. after serving on the ground in Bay County.

“Today was a sobering experience and seems really short, but it’s incredible to watch what … rescue (crews are) doing and what state resources are making sure people are safe,” Trumbull said.

The Florida Forest Service has deployed more than a dozen tractor plow units as well as multiple helicopters to the Adkins Avenue Fire.

Local fire and emergency services are also on scene. In all, more than 200 firefighters from across the Panhandle are working to help suppress the wildfire.

Gov. Ron DeSantis and Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried are among the many state leaders who showed up Saturday in Panama City.

The Governor noted that timber, left over from Hurricane Michael’s destruction in 2018, is a fire risk.

Threats of fire, though, are statewide.

“Fire danger levels are elevated statewide,” Erin Albury, State Forester and Director of the Florida Forest Service, said in a statement. “It is important for residents to use extreme caution and remain aware of current wildfire activity.”

The Florida National Guard, meanwhile, remains on standby.

Jason Delgado

Jason Delgado covers news out of the Florida State Capitol. After a go with the U.S. Army, the Orlando-native attended the University of Central Florida and earned a degree in American Policy and National Security. His past bylines include WMFE-NPR and POLITICO Florida. He'd love to hear from you. You can reach Jason by email ([email protected]) or on Twitter at @byJasonDelgado.


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