Ag Commissioner Fried warns of looming Panhandle wildfire disaster

Published: Apr. 4, 2019 at 5:45 PM EDT
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By: Capitol News Service

April 4, 2019

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (CNS) -- Florida Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried says the 650-acre wildfire near Panama City was started by a backyard rubbish fire that got out of hand.

Fried says if not for all the debris still on the ground from Hurricane Michael, the fire would have been significantly smaller. She says the fire points to greater danger ahead.

“It should not have spread to begin with, but the fact that it started to spread and under normal circumstances without all the timber on the ground, it would have been a couple of hours to put out, five acres. But, the fact we have all this fuel on the ground, we’re getting 668 acres that are up in fire and 48 hours to put it out and risking 20 to 30 homes in that community,” said Fried.

Nearly $2 billion was lost in timber during Hurricane Michael. Much of it is still on the ground, posing a greater than usual fire danger in the months ahead.

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