Local burn bans and restrictions this wildfire season

BAY COUNTY, Fla. (WJHG/WECP) - With wildfire season in full swing, local governments are taking action, issuing burn bans and restrictions.

With wildfire season in full swing, local officials share what you need to know to stay safe and follow restrictions. (WJHG/WECP)

The Florida Forest Service and Bay County officials say this year's wildfire season is unlike any in recent years.

Mark Bowen, Chief of Emergency Services in Bay County, said, "It's just unreal. And so they're having to fight these fires very differently--a lot more aircraft, you know, different tactics."

Friday, Washington County issued a burn ban and last week the Florida Forest Service issued their own restrictions.

Mike Mathis, manager at the Chipola Forestry Center, said, "Well, last Friday we halted any sort of outdoor burn authorizations and that's to include large piles, broadcast burning, and yard debris burning."

This is in effect for Gulf, Bay, Calhoun, and Jackson counties.

"We are in such a hair-trigger state of wildfire threat that it is imperative that people understand how critical this is and they cannot burn," said Bowen.

After Hurricane Michael Bowen said, "The timber that is down and it is humanly impossible to remove all of that, it's just the areas are too remote, there's too much of it, it's just overwhelms our ability to deal with it."

If residents choose to neglect these new restrictions then, "The risk is the life and property to not only firefighters but to the public. You know, there's a lot of it that backs up to homes and we've had some losses already this year due to backyard burning," said Mathis.

Bowen said, "If I cause damage to my neighbor's property during a situation like this because I chose to burn, then the cost of extinguishing the fire, plus the cost of whoever's property was damaged or destroyed is going to be borne by me."

Which is why officials are asking everyone to comply with the local burn bans and fire restrictions.

Gulf County commissioners voted to implement a burn ban Thursday night and are currently formulating the memorandum on it.

For more information, see the attached links.

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