Folks in Tallahassee and the Division of Forestry have something in common this spring.
While most people are seeking rain and shade from the heat, fire officials hope for some of the wet stuff to curb the dry conditions.
Lt. Travis Oaks with the Tallahassee Fire Department says, "We're starting to see the drought index rise and unfortunately, that leads to more grass fires and the spread of wildfires."
The Tallahassee area has seen little more than 50 percent of the rainfall for the year with most of the area in moderate to sever drought .. creating dangerous burning conditions.
"If you're burning leaves or something like that and we're called out, then we're going to put the fire out. We don't go out looking for these fires but if they are a danger or threat, your neighbors are watching and they will help us monitor that." says Oaks.
PRESS RELEASE from the Department of Forestry:
Lack of Rainfall Compounding Fire Danger Level
The absence of a consistent rainfall pattern through April and May has helped to compound the fire danger level in our area (Leon, Gadsden, Liberty, Franklin, Jefferson, Wakulla counties). North Florida, already experiencing drought conditions, is getting drier each day that significant rain does not fall. Currently temperatures have been creeping into the mid to upper 90’s and relative humidity percentages have dropped into the 20’s further contributing to the dryness. Until we start experiencing a consistent pattern of daily rainfall our area will be extremely vulnerable to wildfires.
The Florida Division of Forestry urges the public to exercise safe practices when using fire outdoors. Here are some suggestions:
•Don’t burn unless absolutely necessary.
•Stay with your fire at all times until it is dead out
•Don’t burn on windy days during these conditions
•Protect your home by keeping rooftops and gutters clean of debris that may serve as fuel for floating fire embers.
•Warm equipment and vehicles can cause fires when parked in tall dried grasses.
•Report all suspicious fires to the Division’s Arson Alert Hotline (800) 342-5869
•Report any fire by calling 911.
Until the rains return our fire danger level will continue to climb as will our likelihood of experiencing wildfire in our area. Stay Aware and Stay Safe!