Friday, April 28, 2017

Florida wildfires spreading

ECBPublishing | Apr 27, 2017 | Chris Jones

Currently, there are 123 individual wildfires
burning throughout the State of Florida.
This map shows their general locations.
As of Wednesday, April 26, the Florida Forest Service reports that 95 wildfires are actively burning throughout the state. Of those fires, 28 are over 100 acres each, currently covering 24,976 acres. Nearly 89,000 acres have burned so far in 2017. On Saturday, April 22, Florida Governor Rick Scott praised the efforts of firefighters battling fires throughout the state. The Governor declared a state of emergency on April 11, due to recent fires and the high risk for wildfire development.

Sixteen miles west of St. George, Fl., straddling the state line, the West Mims fire, which was started by a lightening strike, continues to burn. As of press time, it had consumed nearly 60,000 acres of swampland and wildlife refuge. Over 400 individuals from agencies in both Florida and Georgia are currently trying to contain the blaze within the Okefenokee National

Wildlife Refuge. Overnight on Tuesday, April 25, the fire grew by nearly 15,000 acres. Winds from the gulf sea breeze are pushing the fire north, further into Georgia.

The Suwannee River Water Management District, which serves 15 counties in north Florida, has urged residents and visitors to be cautious with fire, as the dry conditions have fueled recent wildfire activity. Campfires on all district-owned land has been banned until conditions improve. Counties with a fire danger index of “moderate” or greater are prohibited from having campfires on District lands. All of the counties within the District are currently rated “moderate,” except for Dixie, Gilchrist, and Levy Counties, which are in the high range. Several counties within the district have implemented county-wide burn bans.

According to Jefferson County Coordinator Parrish Barwick, Jefferson County has not yet implemented such a ban. However, if conditions do not improve soon, he anticipates the county taking action to ban all burning..

There are several prescribed methods that the public should follow to prevent wildfires:

• Comply with local laws and regulations. If there is a burn ban, abide by it.

• Dispose of cigarettes where they cannot ignite dry grass or brush, such as in an ash tray or cup of water.

• Do not park vehicles on dry grass. The heat from the exhaust can cause it to ignite.

• If you see or suspect a wildfire, immediately call 911.

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