Wildfire season begins in Northwest Florida

Published: Apr. 1, 2021 at 11:02 AM CDT
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WALTON COUNTY, Fla. (WJHG/WECP) - As winter fades away across the Panhandle, the annual wildfire season is getting underway.

The season runs from roughly Easter to the Fourth of July, and is the time of year that wildfires are most likely to break out. As days get longer, hotter and drier, it doesn’t take much for a fire to quickly begin and spread. In addition, downed trees from Hurricane Michael (2.1 million football fields worth, according to Bay County Emergency Management), continue to have an impact by acting as fuel for fires.

“Those downed trees make it more difficult for firefighters to get their equipment in there,” said Steve Weherley, Wildfire Mitigation Specialist with the Florida Forest Service. “It puts a lot of fuel on the ground. We expect that threat to continue for the next five to seven years.”

Last year’s especially dry conditions contributed to a very busy wildfire season, and Weherley says there are a few things that homeowners can do to protect themselves and their families.

“Start now cleaning out the pine straw from your gutters and your eaves,” Weherley said. “Make a defensible space around your home and clear out any flammable fuels that are close to your house or your porches. Just be vigilant.”

It is also essential to have an evacuation plan if you live in an area susceptible to wildfires. You can catch the fire weather forecast on Fridays during the 6:00 pm newscast, as well as Saturday and Sunday mornings on NewsChannel 7.

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