Florida is in the middle of its worst wildfire season in years – with no end in sight.
Over 2,000 wildfires have burned over 150,000 acres in Florida already this year.
The Chipola Forestry Center, which services Walton County and much of the Florida panhandle, has 31 wildland firefighters deployed to wildfire suppression efforts across the state of Florida and to help fight the West Mims fire in Georgia.
“Our wildland firefighters are an elite group of selfless public servants committed to protecting the citizens of Florida,” said Johnny Sabo, manager of the Chipola Forestry Center. “It’s not an easy task to leave their families at home but our firefighters are courageous individuals who are willing to assist wherever needed.”
Due to the dry conditions, Florida’s wildland firefighters will likely battle additional wildfires in the coming weeks. Chipola District’s resources are spread thin and unfortunately, man-made fires rank among the top causes of wildfires.
“We’ve recently seen a drastic increase in wildfires due to escaped yard trash or debris burns,” said Wildfire Mitigation Specialist Hannah Bowers.
“It’s a reminder to citizens that they can do their part by keeping preventable, human-caused wildfires at bay and prepare their families and homes for wildfires.”
When citizens are careful with fire, they are doing more than just protecting themselves and their property. They are helping to protect the lives of Florida’s wildland firefighters and first responders.
The Florida Forest Service is urging residents to use caution with any outdoor activities and remember the following:
• NEVER leave an outdoor fire or hot grill unattended.
• Never burn on windy days.
• Be cautious of humidity, lower humidity increases the chance of a fire spreading if it breaks containment.
• Keep a shovel and water hose handy in case a fire escapes.
• Keep mulch and pine needles away from your home, fence, deck, roof, and gutters.
• Remove dead vegetation and debris from under decks and within 10 feet of your home.
• Make wildfire preparedness a family project and implement a family wildfire action plan now.
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.