Officials Urge Caution For Outdoor Fires

Florida Forest Service officials have a warning for those of you planning on firing up the grill or frying a turkey outdoors this Thanksgiving.

"It doesn't take too long with these winter winds that are starting to move in drying out the land to make things dry," said Todd Schroeder of the Florida Forest Service.

As colder temperatures approach, a bonfire or burn pile can spread faster because of the dry kindle.

"If you got a thick layer of it then you're going to have fire you know maintained through that area over a longer period of time."

Florida officials are actually paying closer attention to forests across the state during the transition from the wet to the dry season. In fact, the higher drought index doesn't have to do with the lack of rain these past two months. You have to look at the bigger picture.

"We've actually had a very good year for rainfall but the problem is that last year was so dry that we're taking a while to recover," said WCTV chief meteorologist Mike McCall.

Forest officials say you can still enjoy a bonfire or fry that turkey as long as you keep your eyes on the blaze until it's completely out.

Here are some additional tips for outdoor burning:

-Don't burn on windy days
-Stay with your pile
-Have adequate extinguishing equipment on site
-Be at least 25 ft. from woods, brush or your home
-Be at least 150 ft. from any neighbors' homes or buildings
-Make sure your fire is dead out before leaving it for the day

For additional tips and information including the Drought Index for Florida, go to the Florida Forest Service website at http://www.floridaforestservice.com/index.html


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