Florida's dry season increases the odds of wildfires

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By: Charles Roop | WCTV Eyewitness News
January 26, 2018

This story is a part of Florida’s Severe Weather Awareness Week. For day five, it’s about wildfires and temperature extremes. For this story, we focus on wildfires.

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) — Winter and spring are normally our drier seasons, and we know firsthand that wildfires don't just happen in the western U.S.

In early April 2017, a small leaf fire on Saint George island quickly got out of control and came dangerously close to a few homes.

Also, a massive brush fire burned through the Okefenokee Swamp in April 2017. Lightning sparked the 152,000-acre fire, which lasted for weeks.

But lightning isn't the only cause of wildfires. In fact, most wildfires are sparked by people. From neglected campfires to cigarette butts, these have the potential to create wildfires.

Removing flammable materials such as firewood stacks and fuel 30 feet away from a home and property, and clearing leaves and dead vegetation within 10 feet would help lower the risk of damage. Keeping gutters, decks and porches clear of leaves would help prevent embers from igniting a structure.

In case there is an evacuation, it’s best to have an emergency kit with items such as medications, important papers, and a change of clothing on standby.

The Big Bend and South Georgia remain under drought conditions, while some locations have an elevated fire risk. The recent dry weather reinforces the need to be ready.