Suspect arrested in 343-acre wildfire in Panhandle
A Santa Rosa Beach man was arrested Tuesday in connection to a Walton County wildfire that scorched 343 acres and destroyed dozens of structures.
Allen Smith, who turns 59 on Thursday, faces one count of reckless burning of lands, one count of burning of illegal materials, and one count of open burning requirements. All are misdemeanors.
He is being held at the Walton County Jail on a $5,000 bond.
The fire began May 5 in the vicinity of Mussett Bayou Road in Santa Rosa Beach. Officials said 59 homes were damaged or destroyed.
Fire investigators found that Smith had been burning illegal materials in a burn barrel on his property and did not fully extinguish the fire before leaving it unattended.