North Santa Rosa

Florida Forest Service watches weather,

Milton, FL – Officials with Florida Forest Service’s Blackwater Forestry Center are keeping an eye on the weather conditions this week as a dry cold front moves through the area bringing strong winds and extremely low humidity. Near freezing temperatures and relative humidity predicted to be in the upper teens will combine to create high fire danger and all but eliminate the benefits of this past weekend’s rains.


“We’re looking at a freeze-drying effect in essence,” said David smith, operations Administrator for the Blackwater District which serves Escambia, Santa Rosa and Okaloosa counties. “We’re approaching spring, and wetter weather, but we still have a lot of dead vegetation from the winter. Those dead fuels, plus high winds and low humidity could lead to an increased potential for fires to start as well grow if and when they do ignite.”


Smith noted that while some areas of the district have seen more than an inch of rain in recent weeks, we have been experiencing an uptick in wildfires compared to last year. So far, Forest Service firefighters have responded to 31 fires this month compared to 15 for all of March of 2012. The 10-year average for wildfires in March is 38 for the Blackwater District.


“While we’re not seeing an above-average number of fires so far, we are seeing more than last year,” he said. “This dry, cold weather will not help that situation, either.”


With that increase in mind and the week’s weather forecast, the Florida Forest Service is issuing some advice and simple guidelines for residents who might be considering burning yard debris or other allowable materials.










Some tips and requirements to keep in mind before you burn yard waste include:

  • Check with your city or county before you burn, some      areas have stricter rules regarding burning and some municipalities do not      allow any burning within city limits.
  • DO NOT burn on windy days.
  •                                                                                                                                         25 feet from any forested area (grasslands, brush or      wildlands).
  • 25 feet from your home or other combustible structure.
  • 50 feet from any paved or public roadway.
  • 150 from any occupied dwelling other than your own      home.
  • Legal burning hours are between 8 a.m. and one hour      before sunset.
  • It is illegal to burn household garbage (including      paper products), treated lumber, plastics, rubber materials, tires,      pesticide, paint and aerosol containers.
  • Piles greater than 8 feet in diameter will require      authorization from the Florida Forest Service.
  • Clear down to bare, mineral soil around your pile to      prevent the fire from spreading.
  • Never leave a fire unattended – even for a moment.
  • Grass fires can spread quickly. Be prepared. Keep handy      a water hose, shovel or other means to put out the fire.
  • Make sure the fire is completely out before leaving it      – no smoke and no heat.
  • If your fire escapes, call for help quickly. Several      minutes may pass before a fire department or the Forest Service can arrive      on scene.
  • If your fire escapes, you might be held liable for the      cost of suppression and damages to the property of others.



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

Posted by on Mar 26 2013. Filed under Local. 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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