Florida wildfires force hundreds to evacuate their homes

Hundreds of residents in the US state of Florida were evacuated from their homes after a rash of wildfires that ignited dead vegetation swept through the area.

Dry conditions in Florida have created elevated fire dangers, with 148 active wildfires burning across the state this year, including the 1,214 hectare (3,000 acre) Bertha Swamp Fire in neighbouring Gulf County.

The blazes across Florida’s Panhandle on Monday scorched 4,800 hectares (12,000 acres) of land and were 10% contained as the fire burned near communities east of Panama City.

The wildfires come amid rising concerns over the effects of droughts and climate change in many parts of the United States. Experts believe the latest blazes were fuelled by dead vegetation and timber left behind from Hurricane Michael, which struck the Panhandle in 2018. The Category 5 storm left behind some 72 million tonnes of thick vegetation, which has been dried by drought-like conditions in the area.

So far, the fires have forced the evacuation of about 700 homes.

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