Tallahassee, FL – As temperatures across Florida decrease this winter season, the risk of wildfire is on the rise. The Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services Florida Forest Service warns Floridians of the wildfire dangers associated with freezing temperatures and the low levels of rainfall Florida has experienced in recent months.
“Whether you’re enjoying time with family and friends around a campfire or burning yard waste, it is important to be aware of increased risk this time of year,” said Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam.
The increased chance of wildfire results from freeze dried vegetation and low levels of humidity. During these weather conditions, even small sparks can ignite larger wildfires.
“Any wildfire that starts during these weather conditions could spread quickly and get out of control,” said Jim Karels, Director of the Florida Forest Service.
The Florida Forest Service is urging residents to be careful with any type of outdoor burning by following these tips:
· Never leave any fire unattended
· Clear area down to bare soil around campfires and warming fires
· Do not burn yard waste during dry, windy conditions
· Report any suspicious fire to local authorities
These weather conditions also increase the threat of house fires, said Director Karels.
Homeowners can protect their homes from sparks and embers by clearing the roof and gutters of debris, removing all dead vegetation within 30 feet of their home, and trimming trees and limbs at least 15 feet from the chimney.
Last year, 4,860 wildfires burned 223,316 acres in Florida. A majority of wildfires (65 percent) were caused by humans. Contact your local Florida Forest Service office or visit http://www.fl-dof.com/wildfire/information.html for more information on fire prevention tips and burning rules and regulations.