USA — LEE COUNTY – Unbelievable but true. Conditions are so dry right now that even squirrels are accidently sparking devastating fires. And the worst part seems to be there’s nothing you can do to stop them.
Four brush fires in four days and a Lehigh Acres firefighter says all of them were started by squirrels.
A squirrel was also blamed for the Buckingham fire Tuesday that ultimately destroyed the home of a local pastor.
Clark Ryals with Florida Forest Service says this is a first for him.
“This has happened before but I’ve never heard of it causing fires,” he said.
Scurrying along high voltage lines, the squirrels play a dangerous game when they touch one line while still on another.
“They create a connection between the two which is called arching and the electricity flows through them and can sometimes set them ablaze,” Ryals said.
He says incidents of squirrels getting fried are not as uncommon as people think.
“Usually they are safe if the stay on one wire at a time. But when they try to reach over to the other wire they make that arch,” Ryals said.
But with rain hard to come by throughout many portions of Southwest Florida, we could begin seeing a rise in serious brushfires started by the animals.
“I think you are going to see more and more chances of causing fires in the near future until we start getting steady rainfall,” said Ryals.
But stopping the squirrels from hopping along the wires isn’t something that’s expected to happen anytime soon.
“It’s an inherent risk you have with electricity flowing over the wires that these accidents can possibly happen,” said Ryals.
For residents, keeping a watchful eye out is the best solution.
“If you do have a transformer that blows, call the power company and the fire department as soon as possible. That way tragedies that happened today won’t happen in the future,” Ryals said.
So while there’s not much you can do to stop this from potentially happening to you, officials say you can keep your lawn watered so the grass isn’t as dry as it could be.