Forest Rangers Getting Ready for Fire Season

Keeping a forest healthy is a tough job. Doing prescribed burns is one way to help, according to forest rangers.

A prescribed burn is done under very specific and controlled circumstances by the Florida Division of Forestry.

Thursday, the controlled burn was at the Vicksburg Forestry Station on Highway 77 north of Southport.

This year, forest rangers are getting ready for a tough battle due to lots of dead and uprooted trees from last year's hurricanes that hit the state.

Joe Anderson of the Division of Forestry says he is concerned.

"We anticipate this year in areas that we do have fires, because of that increased buildup in fuel, the fires will be more intense," he says.

Thursday, the rangers used handheld fire cans, four-wheelers and helicopters to start the fires.

The choppers drop ping pong sized balls filled with chemicals. Once these chemicals blend together, they ignite the container and start the fire, but it's done under specific weather conditions like Thursday’s beautiful day.

While it may have looked like a lot of smoke north of Southport, rangers say the smoke produced by a prescribed burn is actually a lot less than that of a wildfire.

The more prescribed burning that can be done now, the less severe rangers hope this year's fire season will be.

The good news is over the next couple of months, rangers expect average temperatures and above average rainfall in northwest Florida.