The Florida Forest Service’s Blackwater Forestry Center is issuing words of warning for anyone considering any outdoor burning activities in the coming days: Use extreme caution.
It has been almost a month since much of the three-county area (Escambia, Santa Rosa and Okaloosa counties) has seen rainfall and wildfire activity is on the rise. Add to that a forecast calling for winds ranging from 15 to 25 mph and fire officials are braced for a potentially busy weekend.
“We’re seeing conditions that are more like late March, early April – the peak of our fire activity,” said David Smith, Operations Administrator for Blackwater. “Unseasonably warm days and a lack of rain have made most of our coverage area susceptible to wildfires earlier than usual.”
Firefighters have responded to a dozen wildfires in the past week with little relief in sight. Indicators observed throughout the area have the Fire Danger Index (rated on a scale of 1-5) at High (3) for Escambia and Santa Rosa counties and Very High (4) for Okaloosa County.
Residents should always be prepared for the possibility of a wildfire as Florida experiences a year-round fire season that typically peaks from April to June in our area. The Florida Forest Service offers tips and advice on how to prepare yourself and your home in case you are impacted by a wildfire online at www.BeWildfireReadyFL.com.
The Florida Forest Service, a division of the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, manages more than 1 million acres of state forests and provides forest management assistance on more than 17 million acres of private and community forests. The Florida Forest Service is also responsible for protecting homes, forestland and natural resources from the devastating effects of wildfire on more than 26 million acres. Learn more at FDACS.gov/FLForestService.
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