High winds, low humidity prompt tighter burn restrictions

Posted on February 1, 2021 by Staff reports

2020 Five Mile Swamp Wildfire (South Santa Rosa News file photo)

Officials with the Florida Forest Service’s Blackwater Forestry Center are limiting authorized burns in Escambia, Santa Rosa and Okaloosa counties because of high winds and low humidity. Potential burns will be evaluated on a case-by-case basis today and Tuesday and only those who are certified burn practitioners may be authorized if approved.

Authorizations from the Florida Forest Service are required for prescribed burning – acreage burns – and piles greater than 8 feet in diameter. Authorizations are not required for residential yard debris burning in piles less than 8 feet in diameter, but Forest Service officials are strongly encouraging residents to refrain from any outdoor burning until conditions improve.

Florida has a year-round wildfire season that typically peaks in March and April. As the area approaches that transition from winter to spring, residents might consider taking steps to better protect themselves and their neighbors from the threat of a wildfire. Cleaning pine straw and leaves from roofs and gutters as well as maintaining a debris free zone around the home are good first steps. Creating defensible space – a clean and green landscape within the immediate vicinity of the home and thinned vegetation out 30 to 100 feet from the home – also is advisable in areas prone to wildfire. For more information about defensible space, you can visit https://fdacs.gov/FirewiseCommunities.

The Florida Forest Service, a division of the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, manages more than 1 million acres of state forests and provides forest management assistance on more than 17 million acres of private and community forests. The Florida Forest Service is also responsible for protecting homes, forestland and natural resources from the devastating effects wildfire on more than 26 million acres. Learn more at FDACS.gov/FLForestService.