Florida Gov. Scott declares state of emergency as wildfires spread

By Vivian El-Salawy on April 11, 2017

Florida Governor Rick Scott declares a state of emergency for Florida as a result of the increased wildfire risk.

As of April 11th, the Florida Forest Service reports that there are a total of 107 wildfires that are burning across the state of Florida. This is affecting over approximately 23 thousand acres.

The Florida Forest Service also offers wildfire statistics for the year of 2017 with a total of 79,629 acres of state and federal acres burned and a total of 1,494 wildfires between January 1st and April 9th.

Image via Florida Forest Service

Furthermore, officials with the U.S. Drought Monitor report moderate to severe drought conditions to be expanding across Central and South Florida. These dry conditions are predicted to worsen over the next several weeks.

Governor Rick Scott believes that the dry conditions of this state and the resulted wildfires are a danger to Floridians.

“I’ve continued to be in contact with Commissioner Putnam and local officials about the wildfires across the state and today I am declaring a state of emergency in Florida to ensure we are ready to respond to and prepare for these fires,” says Scott to WFTS Tampa Bay.

Image via CNN

Executive Order 17-120 calls for the Director of the Division of Emergency Management to activate the state’s Comprehensive Emergency Management Plan in order to address the local wildfires.

The Florida Forest Service offers a variety of resources including wildfire mapping, media resources, current wildfire conditions, a fire weather outlook, a fire danger index (FDI), and fire safety tips.

They report that escaped debris is one of the leading causes of wildfires in Florida. According to the FFS, you are required to have a burning authorization from the Florida Forest Service for agricultural, silvicutural, land clearing, pile and acreage burning. You are not required to have burning authorizations from them if you are burning yard waste (as long as you meet required setbacks and there are no local ordinances that prohibit burning).

Yard waste includes grass clippings, brush, leaves, tree limbs, palm fronds, and so on. These mentioned required setbacks include allowing 25 feet between the 8 foot diameter pile or non-combustible container (of burning yard waste) and any wildlands, structures and homes, 150 feet from other buildings, and 50 feet from public roads.

Image via Florida Forest Service

These current dry conditions in the state of Florida are a sharp contrast to 2016, where there were two reports of hurricanes. This year, areas that were once drenched are now experiencing drought. According to the Tampa Bay Times, April and May are traditionally the two driest months, so many Florida residents may need to prepare to accommodate to these conditions.

For more information on wildfires around you or how you can take preventative measures against wildfires and dangerously dry conditions within your local community, you can visit: Florida Forest Service.

Vivian El-Salawy is a senior at Florida State University. She is currently pursuing a degree in Editing, Writing, and Media with minors in Slavic (Russian) Studies and Communications. Alongside writing for FSView & Florida Flambeau, WVFS Tallahassee 89.7 FM, and the Good Life Community magazine, she is a member of the World-Renowned Marching Chiefs and Seminole Sound.

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