Too Close for Comfort?

By: Courtney Hayes
By: Courtney Hayes

Fire officials say a Rosemary Beach home destroyed in a fire last weekend may have been spared if it hadn't been built so close to another home that caught fire. And apparently it's not just a problem in south Walton County.

It didn't take long for a fire to spread from a home under construction to two other homes next door in the Rosemary Beach Community. Now fire officials say those two homes would have probably been spared if they weren't built so close together.

It doesn't happen frequently, but when a residential fire like this breaks out the outcome is devastating. The damages were estimated at six million dollars.

"We're not seeing a high intensity of these type of fires. The concern is there because that type of development is here," says Chief Bob Majka, of Bay County's Emergency Services. Majka says the destruction of two homes off of Holiday Drive in Panama City Beach in September proves just how important it is to have space in between homes.

The fire started in this car, but quickly spread to two adjacent homes that are only around five feet apart. Another potential problem area is here in the Carillon Beach community.

You can see just how close these homes are. But this type of development may be something of the past. A proposal making its way to Bay County Commissioners would set guidelines preventing developers from building homes too close. "Basically it would set it five feet from the property to the street line. So basically there would be a minimum of 10 feet of space between homes. That's being proposed, it's currently not in effect," says Dan Shaw, Bay County Building Regulation.

Shaw says the state now requires counties to create such setback regulations.

Bay County commissioners are currently reviewing the proposal. Shaw says the issue should come to a vote this summer.


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