Controlled burns key to preventing brush fires

East Orange County sees 350-acre controlled burn

Author: Julie Broughton, Weather
Published On: Jan 15 2013 06:03:53 PM EST   Updated On: Jan 15 2013 06:43:10 PM EST
ORLANDO, Fla. -

If you live in east Orange County and smelled smoke on Tuesday, don't worry- it's part of a prescribed burn by the Division of Forestry. 

According to Wildfire Mitigation Specialist Cliff Frazier, 350 acres burned in Charles Bronson State Park near Fort Christmas.

"We don't just get out there and put fire on the ground. Everything has to be right. the wind direction has to be just right, the humidity levels right, the lifting right," he said. "Everything has to be in order and today was the perfect day to do that."

Frazier says controlled burns are key to preventing "catastrophic brush fires." 

Rainfall amounts across Central Florida range from about 7 to 12 inches below normal for 2012 and that trend continues into 2013. 

"It's not if a wildfire will occur, it's when it will occur. Are you going to be prepared," Frazier said.

Temperatures have also been running about 10-12 degrees warmer than normal.  Frazier says the lack of a hard freeze this winter is actually helpful.  Cold temperatures kill vegetation making it more flammable. 

He tells Local 6 he worries with no significant rain in the forecast, our dry season will be more active.

"It's going to have to rain for days," Frazier said.

Frazier tells Local 6 prescribed burns are actually done on a schedule, with areas burned every three or four years.