North Santa Rosa

Cold, dry weather increases fire danger

MILTON, FL – It has been a month since the last appreciable rainfall in most of the Florida Forest Service’s Blackwater District. The lack of rain has pushed the three-county area into moderate drought status on the Keetch Byram Drought Index and has helped elevate local Fire Danger Levels. Even with substantial rain forecast for late Sunday into Monday, back to back cold fronts and extremely low humidity levels create the potential for greater fire activity.

“This is still considered a normal fall pattern for this area,” said David Smith, Operations Administrator for Blackwater. “But extra precautions should be taken in case of any wildfires or prescribed burning activity.”

Rain is predicted throughout Escambia, Santa Rosa and Okaloosa counties by Sunday but calls for rain in recent weeks have missed the mark and left only scattered showers. Even if the rain arrives as scheduled, the cold snap likely will kill off any green fine fuels – grasses and small shrubs – and add more tinder to the fire. The second front, currently predicted to reach our area Monday or Tuesday, will bring humidity levels in the 30% range and quickly erase the benefits of any rainfall.

What does that mean to the average resident?

“All things considered – dry weather, higher winds and no rain – it’s not a great time to burn leaves and debris in the backyard,” Smith said.

While Forest Service officials are not advising any burn bans, they are asking people who might conduct and burn operations to be extra cautious and aware of the conditions.

Below is a list of safety tips and burn laws that people should keep in mind if they plan to burn yard debris. For more information, please call Joe Zwierzchowski at (850) 957-6140.
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.
• 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.
• Don’t burn on windy days.
• 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.

Posted by on Nov 16 2014. 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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