Wildfire Awareness

Wildfire Awareness
Posted on 01/18/2017

Wildfire season in Florida is considered to be 12 months long. While wildfires can start at any time of the year, the state sees a peak of activity during the early part of the year – beginning in January and continuing until the onset of more frequent rain, usually in early to mid-June. Fire Weather Watches and Red Flag Warnings are issued by the National Weather Service to alert people and land managers to potentially hazardous burning conditions that may add to wildfire danger and lead to the loss of control of a fire.

DID YOU KNOW??? A typical year in Florida will see over 4,600 fires burn nearly 110,000 acres of land. While lightning is responsible for many fires, most wildfires are started by humans – the most common causes of human-started fires are arson and escaped burns of debris.

In 2012, Florida saw over 3,100 wildfires burn nearly 122,000 (110,000) acres. This is a somewhat below normal fire season, but most of these fires occurred earlier in the year, and Tropical Storms Beryl and Debby produced enough rainfall to quell what could have been a fairly potent fire season during the summer months. Until these systems arrived, 2012 fire numbers were about 2 weeks ahead of what occurred in 2011, which was an active fire season.

Some of the most devastating wildfire seasons occur during La Niña years. Winter La Niña events are frequently associated with warmer and drier conditions in Florida, which helps to increase wildfire activity. In contrast to La Niña, there are also events known as El Niño, which generally suppresses wildfire activity due to cooler and wetter winters in Florida. Equatorial Pacific sea temperatures are currently in a “neutral” phase, meaning there is an equal chance of Florida experiencing an above or below normal fire season through this summer.

To help control the spread of wildfires, residents across Florida are urged to be “Firewise”. The Firewise program is designed to help homeowners reduce the threat of wildfire around their homes. Homeowners can make their yards fire resistant by planting specific types of vegetation and landscaping in a way that fire will not threaten their homes. Information and tips on this program can be found at www.firewise.org.

More information on wildfires and what you can do to protect yourself and others can be found at www.floridaforestservice.com and www.FloridaDisaster.org.