Wildfire season is currently at a high in Florida. Just last week, over 6,000 acres burned in Collier County. The fire left a portion of Interstate 75 shut down, and mandatory evacuations were ordered.
Florida wildfires occur due to various reasons. Human intent is one of the main reasons, but dry weather and lightning strikes are also common fire starters.
This season, the wildfires have started earlier than expected. Florida Agricultural Commissioner Adam Putnam says, “I believe that we are moving into an earlier wildfire season than normal. The rains of 2016 have stopped, and we [the state of Florida] are in a very serious drought.”
Putnam notes that there are over 60 fires around the state currently. They are harmful for a variety of reasons. Sometimes severe fires can expand rapidly and burn out of the control of firefighters. According to floridadisasters.org, uncontrolled wildfire roaring through a forest can have disastrous effects. Green, healthy trees are transformed into blackened trunks. Shrubs that provided food and cover for wildlife become ashes. Soil nutrients are vaporized and become airborne in clouds of choking smoke. Ash falls on rooftops, window sills and cars in nearby towns. Where people once enjoyed a green, scenic landscape, they see a stark, gray area.
Proper firefighter and civilian training on wildfires can save lives. By knowing your evacuation route in case of a wildfire emergency, prepping for any wildfire instances by trimming and moving shrubs from direct contact with your home, and not playing with uncontained fires near wooded areas, wildfire emergencies can be handled appropriately and, in many cases, avoided.
“We want to make sure the public is ready, and that all of our foresters have the equipment and training they need,” said Putnam. He added that supporting Florida’s men and women that are on call for the wildfires is crucial in helping them protect our lives and property.
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