North Santa Rosa

Wildfire Awareness Week

Florida Forest Service recognizes Wildfire Awareness Week

Milton, FL – Officials with Florida Forest Service’s Blackwater Forestry Center and the Forest Service statewide are recognizing April 8-14 as Wildfire Awareness Week and would like to take this opportunity to remind residents of our state’s unique, year-round fire season and ways they can help protect themselves if and when a wildfire should threaten their homes.

Commissioner Putnam’s release

A quick Google search of the news lately will show just how active Florida’s fires can be. (Google). To date, there have been 1,100 fires across Florida that have burned just less than 16,000 acres. There currently are 88 active wildfires throughout the state and the peak of the season is just getting started.

Locally, crews from Blackwater (which serves Escambia, Okaloosa and Santa Rosa counties) have responded to 39 wildfires since January 1 that totaled 455 acres. That number is down from last year at this point (115 fires for 1,882 acres) but one sign of potential fire activity is up and that’s the drought index.

April 9, 2011 the Keetch Byram Drought Index for Blackwater was 208 on a scale of 0 to 800 (800 being the driest). Currently, the district’s KBDI stands at 309. Why?

A major reason for the decrease lies with the general public. At this point in 2011, there were 57 fires caused by debris burning (yard waste, acreage, etc). This year, there have been only 12. That means the people have been hearing the message the Forest Service has put out through the media and are burning in a more responsible manner.

“With the number of fires we had last year and the severity of those fires, we were receiving a fair amount of attention and were able to spread the word about fire safety,” said David Smith, Operations Administrator for Blackwater. “They got the message, they understand how quickly an innocent fire can go bad and they’re using a bit more caution now.”

Smith also pointed out that weather – as always – has played a significant role.

“We have not received as much rain in 2012 as we had in 2011,” he said. “But the rain we are getting this year is coming at the right times. We’re getting just enough rain, at just the right time to prevent an increase in fire activity.”

For more information, contact Joe Zwierzchowski with the Florida Forest Service at (850) 957-6140 ext. 127 or (850) 206-2675.

Posted by on Apr 10 2012. Filed under Local, Top News. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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