Drought conditions spark wildfire warning
Recently, an illegal burn outside of Jacksonville was the source of serious damage. Fire officials report 10-15 homes were destroyed or damaged and more than 150 people were evacuated from their homes. A few days later, a brush fire caused part of State Road 528 to be shut down between Orlando and the Space Coast.
“April and May are dry months in Florida. We should be vigilant when it comes to outdoor fires,” reminds Ellsworth Buck, Vice President of GreatFlorida Insurance, Florida’s largest independent home insurance agency.
As a matter of fact, dry conditions, steady winds and lower humidity have created ideal conditions for wildfires. The U.S. Drought Monitor has most of Florida classified as, “abnormally dry” or experiencing a “moderate drought.”
Florida Commissioner of Agriculture Adam H. Putnam announced wildfires have already burned 250 percent more acreage in Florida during the first three months of 2017, than last year. The Florida Forest Service, a division of the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, reports forecasts are for hotter and drier conditions than usual throughout the state in the coming months.
The roof of your home and the perimeter surrounding your home are the most vulnerable to fires. “It is a good idea to keep your landscaping clean and watered,” suggests Buck with GreatFlorida Insurance, Florida’s leading independent homeowners insurance agency.
The Florida Forest Service is urging the public the use extreme caution when handling outdoor fires and heat sources. “We need a lot of self-awareness right now,” he said. “Be mindful of your barbecue grills and don’t leave fires unattended,” says Putnam.
Additional tips from the Florida Forest Service include the following.
In the event of a wildfire, do not hesitate to call 911
Never burn on a windy day
Avoid parking vehicles on dry grass
Keep water nearby when burning anything outside