When there's a wildfire burning in nearly every county in your state, what do you do? In Florida, responders and communicators are working hard to get numerous large wildfires under control while keeping the public informed, aware, and as safe as possible. On Friday, Wildfire Today reported wildfires in Broward County burning thousands of acres. The national Incident Information System or InciWeb, records large incidents on national forests, preserves and refuges, and as of this morning (April 11) reports approximately 38,000 acres burned over the past 5 days on these federal lands in Florida.
Large wildfires in a state as densely populated and frequently visited as Florida pose a variety of problems, not the least of which are smoke impacts on public health and visibility for driving. In addition to transportation warnings and road closures, Florida's public information officers are at the top of the newsfeed about how to prepare your home and how to be ready for possible evacuations as flames and embers encroach on inhabited areas.
Florida state forester Jim Karels warns that residents should not be complacent because of a few recent rainshowers. "Normally, it's safe if you follow the regulations that the Florida Forest Service has in place," said Karels in an interview with WCTV, referring to the practice of burning lawn clippings or debris. "But right now, we recommend you don't burn," he said.
Wildfire Mitigation Specialist Patrick Mahoney with the Florida Forest Service Myakka District, is also providing advice for Floridians about preparing their homes before a fire. His advice includes cleaning out gutters and removing debris from near the home.