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Rainy Season Delayed, Fire Risk Continues in Florida

May 31, 2019

The arrival of Florida's rainy season has been delayed, and the state's fire danger continues to worsen.

Florida's skies are usually filled with darkening clouds and flashes of lightning this time of year. Instead, the smell of smoke and a milky haze have been observed in many areas. A historic heat wave and abnormally dry weather pattern have contributed to an environment favorable for the spread of fires, and conditions are not expected to improve much through early next week.

 

Updated at 10:45 p.m. ET

The Camp Fire's death toll is 88, while 158 remain missing, the Butte County Sheriff said in a tweet Tuesday night. Searchers found no new remains on Tuesday.

Updated at 11:30 p.m. ET on Wednesday

The death toll as a result of the Camp Fire in northern California now stands at 83, after local authorities said that two more sets of human remains were found Wednesday.

According to the Butte County Sheriff's Department, 563 people remain unaccounted for. That's 307 fewer than on Tuesday.

Updated at 4:40 a.m. ET on Wednesday

Fire investigators in Northern California say they found the human remains of 6 more individuals, bringing the death toll to at least 48 people who have died in the wildfire that burned through the town of Paradise with shocking speed, making the Camp Fire the deadliest wildfire in state history.

Fire crews are working to fight that blaze, along with another large wildfire in Southern California, where at least two deaths have been reported.

Those helping victims of Franklin County’s Eastpoint community recover from a devastating fire say all the displaced are having their needs met.

By the end of the week, all of the families displaced by last month’s fire in Eastpoint, Florida will be in housing.

State Continues Battling Wildfires

Apr 10, 2018

Florida faced 32 active wildfires Monday, as dry conditions in parts of the state continued to pose a threat for blazes. 

Florida Forest Service

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

Attorney General Pam Bondi wants new laws to protect people who report sexual misconduct; Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam wants to make sure the state is prepared for a higher-than-normal risk for wildfires; and Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis wants to expand worker compensation benefits for first responders so that it includes coverage for post-traumatic stress disorder.

Kev Cook / Flickr

With three strong hurricanes, wildfires, hail, flooding, tornadoes and drought, the United States tallied a record high bill last year for weather disasters: $306 billion.

40 more wildland firefighters from Florida are now heading to the western part of the U.S. to help deal with one of the worst wildlife seasons in American history. That’s on top of the 41 sent last month.

Despite a very active wildfire season, Florida Forest Service Firefighters will now be helping other states battle their own blazes.

Most of Florida was in a drought just one month ago. But on Thursday, the U.S. Drought Mitigation Center published a report stating there are now no areas with abnormally dry conditions. 

Officials with the Florida Forest Service say recent rains are not enough to tamp down the hundreds of wildfires raging across the state. Parts of the state are still in a drought.

Florida Forest Service

State officials say Florida is having one of its worst wildfire seasons in years. This week on Florida Matters we're talking about the impact these fires have on the state's environment and economy, and whether there's an end in sight for this dry season.


Florida Forest Service

Florida is alight with wildfires right now, with over 125 burning across the state. This week on Florida Matters we’re talking about the impact these wildfires have on the state’s environment and economy, and whether there’s an end in sight to this dry season.


Florida Forest Service

It's been hot and dry and it's peak wildfire season in Florida. That's a point drawn home to the families who live near River Ridge Middle School and High School. They are close enough to the big fire in Starkey Wilderness Preserve that the campuses were cloaked in smoke yesterday.

That is why Pasco School Superintendent Kurt Browning decided to push back the schedule for those two schools, which are opening at 10:45 in the morning and ending the school day late in the afternoon for the rest of this week.

The wildfire in Golden Gate Estates destroyed nine structures, including four homes. The Florida Forest Service is urging people to be “Firewise”

The premise is simple: Take proactive measures to protect your house in the event of a wildfire. 

Evacuations due to wildfires have been lifted in Lee and Collier Counties.  7000 acres burned in Collier at 30th Avenue in Golden Gate Estates that was 50% contained as of Sunday afternoon. Three homes were destroyed.  The cause of that fire is still under investigation.  The News-press reports an arson investigator says a fire in Lehigh Acres, which destroyed 4 homes may have been caused by a cigarette. WGCU’s Quincy Walters spent the weekend keeping up with the changing conditions in Collier.

State Says Wildfires Likely To Get Worse

Apr 20, 2017

With the state battling 106 wildfires covering 124,000 acres as of Wednesday, Florida's top forestry official warned the fire season has yet to reach its peak.

Florida Forest Service

In Florida, it's always wildfire season. But spring is the time of year when the risk is highest.

With increasingly dry conditions, the Florida Forest Service wants the public to aware of wildfire danger.

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.

Air Quality in Tampa Improving from Wildfire Smoke

Apr 12, 2012

If you've been outside today, you probably have smelled the smoke coming from forest wildfires close to the Georgia border.

County officials say there's a moderate level of air pollution today- not enough to issue a warning. We should be getting some fresher air soon.

The smoke is coming from a wildfire burning 13,000 acres close to the border of Georgia. It's far away but we're getting some of the smoke here thanks to the northeast wind.

Julie Marquez from Bay News 9 tells us the conditions are already looking better for most of Tampa Bay.