(NSF) — State Forester Erin Albury warned Thursday that the threat of wildfires remains from fallen timber still strewn across areas of Northwest Florida decimated by Hurricane Michael more than two years ago. Albury cautioned residents in the region to keep property clear of debris as the volume of timber left by the Oct. 10, 2018, storm will continue to cause wildfire problems for the next five to eight years.
“We can try to prevent as many human-caused fires as possible, but there are still natural-caused, lightning-strike type fires that are just going to occur,” Albury said. “So, there’s only so much you can do to prevent that. At that point, your focus is more on, ‘What can I do to protect my home,’ in the event something like that happens.”
The Category 5 Hurricane Michael made landfall in Mexico Beach and cut a path of destruction through parts of the Panhandle before barreling into Georgia. An estimated 550 million trees in Florida, weighing 72 million tons, were damaged or destroyed by the storm. The debris left by Michael was estimated to be 10 times the amount left by Hurricane Irma, which hit far more areas of the state in September 2017.
Albury said many property owners still can’t afford the cost of removing the fallen timber. “A lot of those landowners simply have just not had the ability to do anything with the clean-up to this point,” Albury said.
Source: News Service of Florida