Florida Forest Service Alerts Public to Heightened Wildfire Danger

Randall Weiseman Ag "Outdoors", Florida, Forestry, General, Industry News Release, Weather

From the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services:

fl-forest-service-logoTALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Florida Commissioner of Agriculture Adam H. Putnam and the Florida Forest Service are urging the public to use caution with all outdoor fires due to increased wildfire danger levels throughout the state. Dry conditions have sparked wildfires in many areas of the state recently and have threatened 20 homes within the last three weeks.

“Florida’s wildland firefighters will likely battle additional wildfires in the coming weeks due to continued dry conditions,” said Commissioner of Agriculture Adam H. Putnam. “Citizens can do their part to stop preventable wildfires by using extreme caution with outdoor fires.”

Florida’s number one cause of wildfires is human carelessness, with approximately 20 percent caused by escaped yard trash burns. Dry conditions are expected to increase in the coming weeks, especially in the Big Bend and Panhandle areas. With no rain forecast until after Veterans Day, the Florida Forest Service is urging residents to exercise caution when using fire outdoors, including: burn piles, camp fires and grills. Requirements for safe outdoor burning include the following:

• Never leave a fire or outdoor heat source unattended;
• Avoid burning on dry, windy days;
• Keep a water source and a shovel or suppression tool on hand;
• Make sure your fire meets Florida’s required setbacks;
Call before you burn to obtain an authorization for acreage burns or burn piles larger than eight feet wide; and
• Completely extinguish any fire before leaving.

“When citizens are careful with fire, they are doing more than just protecting themselves and their property,” said Jim Karels, Florida State Forester. “They are helping to protect the lives of Florida’s wildland firefighters and first responders.”

There are approximately 33 active wildfires currently burning throughout Florida. Since January, the Florida Forest Service and its partners have responded to 2,489 wildfires that burned 69,467 acres. Visit the Florida Forest Service’s wildfire information webpage to view an interactive map of current active wildfires, drought and fire danger forecast information, and a list of current county burn bans.

The Florida Forest Service, a division of the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, manages more than 1 million acres of state forests and provides forest management assistance on more than 17 million acres of private and community forests. The Florida Forest Service is also responsible for protecting homes, forestland and natural resources from the devastating effects of wildfire on more than 26 million acres. Learn more at FloridaForestService.com.

For more information about the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, visit FreshFromFlorida.com.