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State Officials Anticipate Active Wildfire Season

Areas across Florida are at an elevated risk of wildfires with dry conditions prevailing.
The Florida Forest Service manages over one million acres of public forest land and protects 26 million acres of homes, businesses, private lands, and natural resources from wildfire.

Peak fire season runs from late winter into spring and that has the Florida Forest Service on high alert. 

Crews have been systematically conducting controlled burns across the state in an effort to prevent wildfires over the next few months.

A drier-than-usual start to the year has already sparked more than 650 wildfires across the state.

Judith Tear is a fire mitigation specialist for the Florida Forest Service. She says cooler temperatures also mean more campfires and that's also a concern.

"Most of the fires that we're responding to people think that their fire is out, they've sprayed a hose on it and they went to bed at night, and its dried out and because of the humidity it sparks back up again and it gets out and your liable for any damage that's done by your fire."

About 10 percent of wildfires are caused by lighting; the other 90 percent are started by humans.

Tear says people can help mitigate the damage by moving anything that can be fuel for fires away from their homes.

"Walk around your house and five foot out, remove everything that is flammable, any trees or bushes. Clean out the eaves from pine needles, clean them off of your roof, remove all that flammable material."

While most Floridians prepare for hurricane season, Tear says wildfire season isn’t as much on our radar and it should be.

“I think it's important for people to understand how fire works. Fire activity can be at its worst between 2:00 pm and 6:00 pm. Oftentimes people are at work when that happens, so having a traditional go kit in your house in the family washroom or closet or wherever might not be enough. You may came home and not be able to get to your house. So having an alternative to have all that paperwork offsite electronically somewhere is a really good thing to have.”

Last year, more than eleven thousand acres burned in the Tampa Bay area.

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