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Wildfire prevention

April is both the peak of our dry season and the height of wildfire risk in Florida. Usually May is a month of transition into Florida’s rainy season, but 2021 has seen one of the driest months of May on record. Along with the lack of rain, we also experienced unusually low humidity… very enjoyable for us humans, but unfortunately leading to an increased risk for wildfires.

Recent Wildfires

Photo credit: K. Clements

In Sarasota County, crews from Sarasota County Emergency Services and Parks, Recreation and Natural Resources have been responding to multiple wildfires that were sparked due to lightning strikes over the last few days. Wildfires can occur due to lightning, unintentional human actions (for example, ignitions by a hot car engine or discarded cigarette), or due to arson.

90% of wildfires in the US are caused by people.

How You Can Help Prevent Wildfires and Protect Yourself and Your Property:

  • Never throw out a lit cigarette. Extinguish all smoking materials.
  • Be careful where you park vehicles with hot engines that could ignite dry grass, such as cars, trucks, and lawn mowers
  • Pay attention to open fires such as campfires, debris piles, charcoal grills and always put out before leaving
  • Be aware of County burn bans
  • Clean your gutters
  • Keep plants and shrubs pruned and 5 feet away from structure walls
  • Keep tree limbs pruned and at least 10 feet away from roof or structure

Current Wildfire Conditions, County Burn Bans, KBDI (drought index), and information on firewise landscaping can be found HERE.

Prescribed Fire

The beauty and diversity of Florida’s native ecosystems depends on fire. Many of our plants and animals are adapted to fire and live in fire-dependent ecosystems.

Photo credit: K. Clements

Prescribed fire is a carefully and strategically controlled application of fire by a team of trained fire managers under specified weather and other conditions. It helps restore health to the fire-dependent ecosystems of Florida.

Prescribed fire helps to decrease risk for wildfires by limiting the amount of available fuel for a fire. This decreases the chance of ignition, but also increases the ability to manage a wildfire if one does ignite.

Learn more About Prescribed Fire:

An Equal Opportunity Institution. UF/IFAS Extension, University of Florida, Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, Nick T. Place, dean for UF/IFAS Extension. Sarasota County prohibits discrimination in all services, programs or activities. View the complete policy at www.scgov.net/ADA.

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