Wildfire Danger High in Florida this Memorial Day Weekend

Posted on 27 May 2011 by LeslieM

Jim Karels, Director of the Florida Division of Forestry at the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, issued a warning today about the wildfire danger leading in to Memorial Day weekend.  The danger of wildfire is very high throughout Florida due to lack of rain, low humidity and windy conditions.

The entire state of Florida is suffering from drought conditions and everyone should use extreme caution with any type of fire this weekend,” said Karels. “Under these current conditions, and without the proper resources, fires can get out of control quickly and may cause damage to property, homes and even lives.”

The Keetch-Byram Drought Index (KBDI) which measures the amount of moisture in the top three feet of soil reveals an average statewide reading of 569 on a scale of 0 to 800, with 0 equivalent to flood-like conditions and 800 to desert-like conditions.

Burn bans are in place in several counties including Baker, Citrus, Flagler, Glades, Hendry, Marion (voluntary), Martin, Nassau, Osceola, Palm Beach (East), Putnam, Seminole, St. Lucie, and Volusia. The Division of Forestry encourages residents to contact local government officials for up to date information on burn bans.

Individuals and families planning to visit forests or parks over the holiday weekend are advised to call ahead to learn whether or not campfires and charcoal grills are permitted. These activities may be restricted in certain areas until the fire danger decreases.

The Division of Forestry also released fire safety tips for Floridians to keep in mind this Memorial Day:

  • Never leave a fire unattended
  • Dispose of charcoal briquettes properly
  • Use dedicated campfire rings where possible
  • Clear vegetation to bare soil within 10 feet of your campfire
  • Make sure a fire is dead out before leaving unattended
  • Be very careful when operating equipment such as lawn mowers, tractors, chainsaws, all-terrain vehicles (ATVs) as any spark can start a wildfire under the current conditions
  • Avoid parking cars among tall grass that can easily be ignited from a hot catalytic converter

Since January 1st, of this year, 2,664 wildfires have burned 128,675 acres throughout Florida. This figure represents nearly twice as many fires as the Division of Forestry responded to during the same period last year.

To report a wildfire, please call 9-1-1 or the local Division of Forestry office.

For more information on burn bans, current wildfires or fire prevention measures, please visit http://www.fl-dof.com/wildfire/information.html or contact the local Division of Forestry office.

For more information about the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, visit www.FreshFromFlorida.com or follow Commissioner Putnam on Facebook, www.facebook.com/adamputnam, or Twitter, @adamputnam.

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