TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — Florida Commissioner of Agriculture Adam H. Putnam and the Florida Forest Service are asking residents to report suspicious wildfire activity during National Arson Awareness Week, May 1-7. This year’s national arson awareness theme is “Prevent wildfire arson — spread the facts, not the fire.”
“Arson is the leading human cause of wildfires in Florida,” said Commissioner of Agriculture Adam H. Putnam. “With the help of Floridians and visitors, we can better protect Florida’s communities and natural landscapes by stopping arsonists in their tracks.”
Wildfire arson costs Florida taxpayers millions of dollars each year. More than 143 arson wildfires have burned 6,300 acres in Florida since January. Nationally, more than half a million wildfires are set by arsonists each year, resulting in more than $3 billion in damages.
To report suspicious wildfire activity, contact the Florida Forestry Arson Alert Hotline at 1-800-342-5869. Callers can remain anonymous and information about wildland arson could result in a reward of up to $5,000. When reporting suspected wildfire arson activity, callers should remember the following tips:
- Call 911 immediately;
- Never approach the suspect;
- Identify vehicle descriptions and license plates;
- Note physical descriptions of suspects; and
- Pinpoint the location where the suspicious behavior was observed.
“Florida experiences heightened wildfire danger in the spring, so it is especially important to remain alert right now for suspicious wildfire activity,” said Jim Karels, Florida State Forester. “Citizens and visitors who report suspicious wildfire activity are an invaluable resource as we work together to stop arsonists and keep wildfires at bay.”
The Florida Forest Service, a division of the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, manages more than 1 million acres of public forest land while protecting homes, forestland and natural resources from the devastating effects of wildfire on more than 26 million acres.