Dry weather, hot winds and summer-like temperatures are adding to wildfire dangers in the Florida Panhandle. Residents are being urged not to burn household or lawn debris until weather conditions improve.
The 2006 fire season has started to pick up momentum, said Ira Jolly, Forest Protection Bureau chief. “The weather outlook for the next seven days will not improve the situation either.”
A dry front is expected to move through the state this weekend producing low relative humidity values and higher than normal winds, ideal conditions for wildfire.
Prevention is the key to avoiding wildfire disaster. Although a burn ban is not in effect, Blackwater Forestry Center, which covers Escambia, Santa Rosa, and Okaloosa Counties, will consider burn permit authorizations based on daily fire danger conditions.
Yard trash burns are the number one cause of wildfire this calendar year, and the situation is compounded in Blackwater District due to the accumulation of large amounts of hurricane debris – a factor which can significantly increase fire intensity.
Residents are strongly encouraged to act responsibly, and avoid activities which could spark wildfire. If fire spreads under the current high fire danger conditions, lives can be at risk. Additionally, liability for suppression and damage to property can be expensive. For example, if aerial support is required, helicopter expenses exceed $1,100 per hour.
Citizens are strongly encouraged to report fires and request the Know the Law guide to forest fire laws and open burning regulations, by contacting the Florida Division of Forestrys Blackwater Forestry Center at (850) 957-6140 or visiting www.fl-dof.com.