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State offers tips for wildfire season

April 8-14 marks Wildfire Awareness week

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Hundreds of Floridians lost their homes as more than 500,000 acres burned across the state in April 1998.

To recognize those wildfires, The Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services Forest Service declared the week of April 8 through April 14 as wildfire awareness week.

"Florida is unique in that it experiences a year-round wildfire season, with heightened wildfire activity during the spring months," said Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam. "Although we may receive sporadic rain, extended drought conditions are forecasted to persist throughout spring and into summer. Over the coming weeks and months, it is likely that Florida will experience very high to extreme wildfire danger due to these dry conditions. It is critical for Floridians to take steps to ensure their own safety."

Sunday, conditions were windy with low humidity causing brush fires in Volusia and Lake counties to spread quickly.

In Groveland, a wild fire has burned more than 60 acres. Firefighters have been working with people who live in the Timber Village neighborhood making sure they keep windows and doors closed to avoid the smoky conditions.

Since Jan. 1, more than 1,100 wildfires have burned nearly 20,000 acres in Florida. Most of these fires were caused by human carelessness, officials said.

They offered these five steps for prevention:

1. Check with local authorities for any temporary restrictions on burning yard waste
2. Contain fires to an eight-foot diameter pile or non-combustible barrel at least 25 feet from forests, 25 feet from homes, 50 feet from paved public roads and 150 feet from other occupied buildings
3. Do not burn on windy days or when the humidity is below 30 percent
4. Never leave a fire unattended and make sure it is completely out before leaving
5. Keep a shovel and water hose handy in case a small fire escapes containment

In addition to the tips listed above, Floridians should also report any suspicious fires or fire activity to 911 or their local Florida Forest Service office.

More information is available at the Department of Agriculture's website.

Wildfire updates can be found at the Florida Forest Service's website.