Wildfire prevention in Florida now a year-round job

Even though we're in the rainy season, the state of Florida saw 2,500 wildfires in July, so fire prevention is now a year-round endeavor.

Pamela Traficant has lived in the Sugar Hill community of Jensen Beach for 10 years.  She knows her wood- frame home, surrounded by dense vegetation, needs her attention.

"It is a big concern.  Thank goodness we do have the Savannas State Preserve so we do have access to water right away because as you can see there are no fire hydrants anywhere," said Traficant.

Three weeks ago, 35 acres burned in the preserve as fire raced close to her neighborhood, and up to the doors of some homes on the other side of the preserve.

Even now, the crunch of dried vegetation is indicative of plenty of fuel.

Melissa Yunas with the Florida Forest Service walks over to a dried palmetto at the edge of a driveway.  "So flammable.  All you need is one spark, this goes up, the green vegetation goes up.  Then it's over to the wood frame house with the wood shingles on the roof," she said.

Yunas says six months ago, they worked to mow fire breaks around the Savannas State Preserve at the community's edge.  Yunas says it's important to work with communities in high fire danger areas.

"They reduce the fuel load.  They reduce vegetation so fire is not as intense so the local fire department and forest service can get around and safely protect the houses," said Yunas.

On Tuesday, mowing was being done at Peck Lake Park in Hobe Sound.  The work designed not only to protect the small structures in the park, but also the homes around the park perimeter.

 "Wildfires here in Florida are 12 months out of the year believe it or not," added Yunas.

The Florida Forest Service began its more aggressive approach to mowing after 1999 when 40-plus homes were destroyed in Port St. Lucie and other parts of the state saw wide spread devastation from wildfires.

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