Florida Not Out of Woods Yet with Wildfire Threat

Jan 9, 2009

Claims Journal--January 9, 2009

Florida Agriculture and Consumer Services Commissioner Charles H. Bronson is advising residents that below-average rainfall for the last four to five months has significantly increased the state’s wildfire risk.

The torrential rain associated with Tropical Storm Fay last summer has been all but offset by the recent drought. In fact, the Keetch-Byram Drought Index, which measures available soil moisture and runs from 0 (saturated) to 800 (desert-like), currently stands at 511 — more than double the normal drought index this time of year.

“We are asking both residents and visitors alike to be careful with any outdoor burning and to check with their local officials to determine if there is a burn ban in effect in their area,” Bronson said.

During the past year, 2,894 wildfires have burned nearly 106,000 acres in Florida.

Bronson is urging residents to protect their homes from fires by clearing leaves and pine needles from the roof and gutters, removing dead vegetation from around their homes and trimming trees and limbs within 15 feet of a chimney.

Source: Florida Division of Forestry