The Florida Forrest Service (FFS) has posted its latest map of wildfire risk. All of South Florida is in a heightened state of susceptibility with several counties registering in the extreme risk zones. While there are currently no burn bans in the region, residents should exercise complete caution when carrying out a permitted burn.
According to the FFS, the remains of last year’s active hurricane season are complicating the preparations for this year’s fire prevention. The service is concentrating on creating fire breaks and urging property owners help create “defensible spaces,” especially those surrounded by densely wooded land.
Tasks such as clearing leaves out gutters and sweeping debris off of roofs can help reduce the risk of damage to homes and other structures.
Last year was a particularly difficult year for fire damage in Florida. According to the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, the majority – 70 percent – of the wildfires were man-made, meaning they could have been prevented.
The remaining 30 percent were most likely caused by lightning.
Escaped debris burning is one of the leading causes of wildfires. Burning yard waste does not require an authorization but you must follow the rules for your area including the required setbacks.
Before starting any type of controlled burn, make sure there are no local, city or county ordinances in place that prohibit burning.
Burn piles greater than 8 feet in diameter require an authorization from the Florida Forest Service, suppression equipment on hand, and additional setback requirements.
It is illegal to burn household garbage including (but not limited to) paper products, treated lumber, plastics, rubber materials, tires, pesticide, paint and aerosol containers.
The data image posted by The FFS for March 9 gives Miami-Dade and Martin Counties a Fire Danger indice of 5 (shown in purple), the highest level rating, marking extreme hazard.
St. Lucie, Martin, Palm Beach, and Broward Counties all had indices of 4 (shown in red) which is the service’s very high risk rating.
Image: Florida Forrest Service