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wildfire season

Putnam Says Firm Hired By State Caused Wildfire

Jun 28, 2018

A firm hired by a state agency to conduct a prescribed burn sparked a weekend wildfire that burned 820 acres and 36 homes in Northwest Florida, Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam said Wednesday.

Agriculture officials are warning Floridians to use caution due to significantly heightened wildfire risk. Dangerous conditions are present statewide.

Florida’s top agriculture official wants more funding to fight wildfires. Firefighters worked hard to control this year’s burns, before heavy rainfall cut the season short. But winter weather conditions could fuel more fires in 2018. 

For crews fighting wildfires, the ability to get accurate information quickly is crucial. A breakdown in communication was one factor in a fire that killed 19 firefighters in Arizona last year, and in the deaths of two Florida firefighters in Arizona in 2011.

Florida officials hope to address some of those communication problems with a new tracking system designed to keep tabs on crews in the field.

The simple, sobering sound of a bell ringing as each firefighter's name and age was read brings home the sad story from Prescott, Ariz., where 19 Granite Mountain Hotshots who died Sunday fighting a wildfire were remembered Monday.

In what is being called the deadliest U.S. wildfire in at least 30 years, an out-of-control blaze trapped and killed 19 firefighters Sunday in central Arizona. They had been forced to use temporary shelters in an attempt to survive.

All of those killed were part of the Granite Mountain Hotshots, an elite group based in Prescott, Ariz., that uses rigorous training to prepare for fighting wildfires. They are frequently deployed to the front lines of firefighting efforts against such blazes.

Update at 6:04 p.m. ET: Firefighters Identified

Two separate wildfires in Brooker Creek Preserve broke out at the beginning of the Memorial Day weekend before being brought under control by East Lake Fire Rescue and Palm Harbor Fire Rescue.

Credit: Bay News 9

A brush fire is burning near New York Avenue and U. S. Highway 19 in Hudson.  

The Pasco County Fire Department tells Bay News 9 that the fire appears to have started in the woods behind Club Wildwood Mobile Home Park.  Around 150 residents were evacuated.  

UPDATE: U. S. 19 between Hudson Avenue and New York Avenue has reopened