Hurricane debris leads to increased danger of fires

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (CAPITOL NEWS SERVICE) - The amount of dead lumber on the ground after Hurricane Michael has forestry officials worried, in part because landowners may not have the means to have it removed.

Forestry officials briefing the Governor Tuesday said the costs of a fire could be in the tens of millions and that Florida will either have to pay to get the timber off the ground or to fight massive fires.

“If we don’t get breaks in there, if we don’t start to remove that debris, we’re going to see catastrophic fire, and that catastrophic fire in these kinds of advances is going to mean big air that I’ve I got to bring in on a federal contract that we bring in around the nation. But you could see fires that are running ten to a hundred million dollars, similar to the west if we don’t get rid of the debris," said State Forest Director Jim Karels.

The timber has been on the ground since October. Florida CFO Jimmy Patronis says it has about one more month to be salvaged before it becomes too decayed to harvest.