We all continue to enjoy the beauty and peace of Florida's magnificent landscape, scenery and warm climate. However, we often don't realize that these same characteristics also cause severe wildfires. Each year, thousands of acres of land, as well as many homes, are destroyed by fires that erupt at any time of year. Drought weather conditions, lightning, burning debris or carelessness contribute to the ignition of wildfires. Additionally, a growing number of people live in new Florida communities, building homes in areas that were once wildland. As a result of this growth, it is everyone's responsibility to keep a watchful eye on the threat of wildfires.
Lack of concern and lack of planning for fire safety measures may be disasterous. As wildfires often begin unnoticed and spread quickly, residents can reduce risk to family, home and property by creating a family plan. Decide what to do and where to go before wildfires threaten.
Frequently Asked Wildfire Questions:
- What causes wildfires? Most Florida wildfires are caused by lightning strikes. Arson and carelessly discarded cigarette butts can also be a problem.
- How can I help prevent wildfires? You have several options to help prevent wildfires. The Wildfire Mitigation Ordinance states that any vacant property owner is responsible to underbrush mow any vegetation deemed a fire hazard that is within 30-feet of an adjacent structure. Additionally:
- Store firewood, propane tanks or gasoline as far away from the house as possible.
- Clean gutters and roof of leaf litter and pine needles.
- When planting foundation plants, keep a clear space at plant maturity of at least 2-3 feet from the sides of the house. Use fire-resistant plants as much as possible, excluding saw palmetto, gallberry, wax myrtle and cedar.
- Do not dispose of yard waste trimmings or dead plants on vacant lots.
- Visit www.firewise.org to obtain more information.
- What if we have a fire in our neighborhood? DO NOT PANIC. Proceed calmly and quickly with your plan and only evacuate if told to do so. The City will make every attempt to alert residents as far in advance as possible, but there may be little or no notice of the impending danger. Have an emergency supply kit ready, along with drinking water, medications, important papers such as insurance policies, medical records and social security information. Upon leaving your home, turn off at the main switches all electrical outlets and turn off all light switches. Use main arteries to leave and avoid short cuts on less traveled routes; emergency personnel will monitor safety more often on the main roads.