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Debris From Hurricane Irma Could Make Wildfires Worse

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Florida Forest Service
Last year, more than eleven thousand acres were scorched by wildfires in the Tampa Bay area.

The Florida Forest Service is warning that wildfires could be more severe as a result of Hurricane Irma.

Although much of the debris whipped up by the hurricane has been removed from residential areas, removing all the downed trees and vegetation from the forests isn't possible.

Todd Chlanda, a fire mitigation specialist, debris left behind by Hurricane Irma can serve as fuel for wildfires.

"When you add increased fuels -- vegetation, trees -- onto the forest floor, that just will make fires hotter, they'll last longer and they'll move quicker," Chlanda said.

Last year, more than eleven thousand acres were scorched by wildfires in the Tampa Bay area. It was the worst year for fires in a decade.

Chlanda said this year is expected to be just as bad.

"In the winter time we typically see smaller fires, but we are starting to see the frequency of those fires pick up now," he said.

The Florida Forest Service is asking people to move anything that can be fuel for wildfires away from their house. They are also asking that people take the proper precautions when having fires this winter.

More ways to prevent forest fires can be found here. 

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