Attention Tampa Bay:It's Wildfire Awareness Week

Tallahassee, Fla.(970 WFLA)-Highlighting the 20th anniversary of Florida's devastating 1998 wildfire season, Florida Commissioner of Agriculture Adam H. Putnam and the Florida Forest Service stress the importance of fire safety during Wildfire Awareness Week, today through April 14th. 

During the 1998 season, wildfires across the state scorched approximately 500,000 acres of forests, private lands and communities; caused the complete evacuation of Flagler County; and destroyed more than 300 homes and structures.

“Wildfire Awareness Week serves as an important reminder of not only the catastrophic impact that wildfires can have on our communities and natural resources, but of the bravery and dedication of our forestry firefighters and first responders that work every day to protect Florida,” said Commissioner Putnam. “It's imperative that Floridians stay educated on how to avoid and prepare for potential wildfire.”

Since the beginning of the year, approximately 1,142 wildfires have burned 68,653 acres in Florida. There are currently 25 active wildfires in Florida burning 32,777 acres.

“Historically, spring is the most active time for Florida's year-round wildfire season due to typical weather patterns and residents burning yard waste from the accumulation of winter debris,” said Jim Karels, Director of the Florida Forest Service. “With expectations of an active wildfire season and continued drought conditions, Wildfire Awareness Week is a great time for residents and visitors to learn their role in preventing wildfires.”

Wildfires in Florida usually start and spread quickly, leaving little time to prepare for a possible evacuation.  Residents can complete a few simple tasks to help defend their homes and families against wildfire. 

Homeowners can take the first step by creating a Personal Wildfire Action Plan but all residents and visitors are encouraged to utilize these resources; including Florida's “Ready, Set, Go!” and “Firewise” programs that provide simple tasks to help defend against wildfires.

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 of wildfire on more than 26 million acres.

Graphic credit:FFS

Click here to learn more about the Florida Forest Service

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