May 12, 2017
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — Commissioner of Agriculture Adam Putnam and the Florida Forest Service announced today that South Carolina is sending firefighters and equipment to help battle Florida wildfires. The support crews are expected to arrive in Central Florida Saturday evening. There are more than 135 active wildfires in Florida and more than 2,000 wildfires have burned over 150,000 acres in Florida this year. Current conditions by county, burn bans, and helpful tips to prevent and protect against wildfire in Florida can be found on our Current Fire Conditions webpage.
“I thank the South Carolina Forestry Commission for providing this much-needed support as our firefighters continue to battle wildfires across the state,” Commissioner Putnam said. “Conditions are forecast to get even drier and warmer into late spring and early summer, and Florida is going to need all the help we can get.”
Commissioner Putnam asked Governor Scott to issue an executive order on April 11, 2017 in order to provide full resources to combat wildfires. The last time a similar executive order was issued was in June 2011.
“Every part of our state is susceptible to wildfire, and with more than half of Florida’s counties under burn bans, resident and visitors must take every precaution to help prevent wildfire,” said State Forester Jim Karels.
Wildfires in Florida usually start and spread quickly, leaving little time to prepare for a possible evacuation. Homeowners can complete a few simple tasks that will help to defend their home against wildfire. One of the best ways to reduce a home’s wildfire risk is to create 30 feet of defensible space around the home. When creating defensible space, begin with the area immediately surrounding the home, about 3 feet out on all sides. Make sure this space is free of tall, fire-prone plants and materials. Keep this area clean and free of dead plant material and flammable mulches. Instead, opt for low-growing, fire-resistant plants and materials and use mulches, such as rocks or chunky bark. Deliberately space all plants so that none are placed directly under windows or vents around the house.
To increase home survivability, Floridians can do the following:
1. Keep mulch and pine needles away from your home, fence and deck;
2. Keep roof and gutter free of pine needles;
3. Keep flammables away from your home;
4. Store firewood at least 30 feet from your home;
5. Remove dead vegetation and debris from under the deck and within 10 feet of your home; and
6. Make wildfire preparedness a family project.