Florida Forest Service urges public to be cautious of fire danger

Published: Sep. 29, 2022 at 10:38 PM CDT
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WASHINGTON COUNTY, Fla. (WJHG/WECP) - The recent change in weather in the Panhandle could ignite a fiery problem.

“You feel your lips getting dry and this wind blowing,” Forest Area Supervisor Wayne Rushing said. “Typically around this time of year in Florida we’re usually getting pretty dry right now.”

The dryness and wind are things the Florida Forest Service is watching carefully.

“Take into consideration the weather,” Rushing said. “The red flag conditions, the humidity, the winds. Honestly, right now I don’t advise anyone to burn anything. We’re having 40 mph gusts.”

The excess debris left behind by Hurricane Michael has made our area a tinderbox.

“Unfortunately we went through Hurricane Michael and it blew a lot of this timber down,” Rushing said. “A lot of the stuff that didn’t get sunlight is now getting sunlight to grow. The woods are getting a lot thicker and all that downed timber we still have.”

Many brush fires are manmade, too.

“That’s maybe burning yard trash and not properly watching it and not burning it out when you’re done,” Rushing said.

Failure to follow “burning setbacks” when doing an outdoor burn doesn’t help.

“There are setbacks they have to follow,” Rushing said. “As long as they’re following those setbacks, we feel they’re more comfortable doing those burns.”

Some setbacks include having your outside burn 50 feet from any paved public road and 25 feet from brush.

Florida Forest Service officials also say putting decorative pieces in your home that are highly flammable is extremely dangerous.

“A lot of our decorations we put around our house is pine straw,” Rushing said. “It’s very, very flammable. I don’t recommend any of that stuff to be fire-wise.”

Emergency management in Bay and Washington Counties are urging the public to abstain from outdoor burning until the weather conditions improve.

You can find more information on fire safety by visiting the Florida Forest Service’s website.