VOLUSIA COUNTY, Fla. – A burn ban has been issued for Volusia County due to dry weather conditions.
The countywide ban, which includes unincorporated areas, Oak Hill, Lake Helen and Pierson, prohibits all outdoor burning unless authorized by the Florida Forest Service, according to county officials.
Outdoor cooking with a contained gas or charcoal grill -- not a fire pit -- is the only exception, Volusia County Fire Rescue officials said in a news release.
The ban goes into effect at 12:01 Friday, the same time Florida’s stay-at-home order is set to take effect in response to the coronavirus outbreak. Volusia County’s beaches are also set to close to the public at midnight in compliance with the governor’s executive order.
Fire Rescue officials want as many county resources and first responders as possible to be available during the coronavirus pandemic. Officials hope temporarily banning outdoor burning will allow the county to free up those resources and first responders.
"It’s crucial for the public safety and welfare that Volusia County Fire Rescue be available for first-response medical calls during this time and not have to be responding to brush and wild land fires, which are preventable,” Fire Chief Howard Bailey said.
Anyone who violates the burn ban could face a fine of up to $500 and/or up to 60 days in jail, fire officials said.
Officials offered the following fire prevention tips:
Practice wildfire safety
- Do not discard cigarettes from moving vehicles.
- Do not park a hot car or operate all-terrain vehicles on dry grass.
- Check lawnmowers and farm equipment for properly working spark arresters.
- Extinguish fires when cooking outdoors, and never leave fires unattended.
Protect your home
- Design and landscape your home with fire safety in mind.
- Allow a 30-foot buffer of non-combustible material around your home.
- Use non-combustible materials on the roof and clean the roof and gutters regularly.
- Teach family members how to use a fire extinguisher. Test smoke detectors regularly.
- Inspect chimneys twice a year and clean them once a year.
- Rake leaves and dead limbs and twigs. Clear flammable vegetation.
- Have a garden hose long enough to reach any area of your home and property.
When wildfire threatens
- Listen to the media or a weather radio for civil emergency messages about where the danger is.
- Prepare your family, pets and supplies in case you have to evacuate.
- If told to evacuate, do so immediately.
- If evacuating, tell someone you are leaving and where you are going. Drive away from fire hazards and listen to public safety officials.