As the cool, crisp fall weather is now upon us, it seems only natural to want to experience one of the greatest memory makers for your beach vacation – a beach bonfire! Now before you go out and buy your cord of firewood, your all-beef Oscar Meyer’s, the large bag of Marshmallows, Hersey’s Chocolate bars etc., there are a few things you need to know first.
The most important item would be where…where are you allowed to partake in setting up and setting you bonfire ablaze? Well, here along the Emerald Coast you may be surprised to know that Destin – which is firmly entrenched as part of Okaloosa Couty – is not a “Bonfire Friendly Zone”. Which means NO BONFIRES ALLOWED period. But don’t fret…just a few miles east of Destin and Okaloosa County you will find the beach flame friendly county of South Walton.
Here in South Walton, you can enjoy a blazing good time on their beaches at night, meaning, yes you can have a bonfire here. However, there are few items you must cross off your list before you squeeze out the last drop of lighter fluid (which I do not recommend you use to start your fire!).
Numero Uno – GET YOUR PERMIT!
In Walton County, you will need to get your Temporary Bonfire Permit. This allows you to have a bonfire on the beach(Gulf Front Property) for one night, there is $50.00 fee for the permit and the application must be submitted to the South Walton Fire District, for approval prior to the bonfire. And you must provide your own fire container and burning material. Along with purchasing the permit, you must also follow these rules…to the tee courtesy of the South Walton Fire District.
• The permit must be available at the burn site at all times during the bonfire. The surrounding area must be cleaned of all trash and debris. Only combustible materials free of nails, glass, and potentially dangerous items may be used.
• It shall be unlawful and is in violation of County Ordinance for any person to fail to clean up as provided within the ordinance. Issuance of this permit does not excuse or relieve the applicant from liability, responsibility for any damages, residual damages as a result of an improper, carelessness of negligence setting, tending, or extinguishing the fire.
• The individual/applicant is responsible for cleaning the area of any trash.
• Please extinguish the fire with water and remove the container from the beach.
Next – how to set up your bonfire.
You can always do it yourself…or hire one of the many Bonfire Specialists in the area such as The Rental Shop 30A, Santa Rosa Beach Bonfires, 30A Blaze, or the Bonfire Guy
Now if you are the more the pyrotechnic type and would like to do this yourself you must know a few items of interest. First, you can’t just throw anything on the pile and set it ablaze…no. Such items included in that category are pressure treated lumber, rubber products, creosote-treated lumber, any glued material, plastic, foam or my favorite – household trash. Use paper and matches rather than a lighter fluid or gasoline to start your bonfire.
Your bonfire must be in a metal container, such as a galvanized tub, fire pit or burn barrel no larger than four feet in diameter. You also need to pay very close attention to where you place your fire. Bonfires should be at least 100-feet away from any habitable structures, 200-feet away from our protected sea turtle nests and at least 50-feet away from any vehicles, public roads and plants, and vegetation.
And after all the roasting of hot dogs, Smore eating, and campfire song fest has come to an end, you must properly extinguish your bonfire by wetting down all the burnt material and removed them along with the ashes from the beach. Now that you have created a lifelong memorable event to share with your loved ones and friends, one last important item to remember, PICK UP YOUR GARBAGE! Um, sorry, PLEASE pick up any and all signs that you have even been there – we love our amazing beaches and get a little testy when we see trash left behind.