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'Lightning is not our friend': Fire officials monitor drought conditions in Palm Beach County

'The most important thing is to make sure your house is defendable from wildfires and from brushfire,' Capt. Tom Reyes says
Posted at 6:47 PM, May 14, 2024
and last updated 2024-05-14 22:27:11-04

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — Palm Beach County Fire Rescue Capt. Tom Reyes told me that overnight, and into Tuesday, near Loxahatchee's Palm Beach State College campus, 30 acres of land caught fire.

A team effort between fire rescue and forestry helped keep the fire at bay.

There are dry conditions also popping up in areas of northern Palm Beach County. County Emergency Management offices are also working to make sure people know where to go to cool off at parks, beaches and libraries.

Fire breaks out near Loxahatchee Palm Beach State College campus impacting 30 acres of land caught May 2024 .png
Fire breaks out near Loxahatchee's Palm Beach State College campus impacting 30 acres of land.

It’s a concern becoming more and more important as we see temperatures creeping closer to the 90s as summer gets nearer.

Reyes said there are things you can do at home as well to make sure you're not at a fire risk.

Palm Beach County Fire Rescue Capt Tom Reyes May 2024 .png
Palm Beach County Fire Rescue Capt. Tom Reyes say making sure there are no flammable materials or dry brush near your home is key in preventing fire caused by lightning.

"The most important thing is to make sure your house is defendable from wildfires and from brushfire," Reyes said. "That means from 5 to 10 feet around your house, no dry brush. Clear that area out. You don't want to have any flammable liquids or flammable materials there. If you have a generator or a portable standby generator, you want to make sure that's at least 5 feet to 10 feet away from your house and it's on a solid surface."

The county uses the Keetch-Byram drought index (KBDI) to relate current and recent weather conditions to expected fire behavior or potential. It runs on a scale of 0 to 800. For today, the county is at a 489. According to Reyes, that number constitutes a high level of fire danger.

Rainy season officially begins May 15 in South Florida.