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Florida Forest Service learns lessons from 1998 dry season that destroyed thousands of homes

Posted: 4:30 PM, Apr 05, 2018
Updated: 2018-04-06 11:32:00Z
Lessons learned from 1998 dry season

Firefighters have responded to dozens of similar brush fires the last couple of weeks saving dozens of homes.

To be a good firefighter you have to be a student of history. Twenty years ago fires consumed hundreds of homes.

"We, unfortunately, lost a lot of houses," said Marty Harn with the Florida Forest Service.

In 1998, there were nearly 5,000 fires, hundreds of homes were lost.

Shortly after state leaders made mitigation a priority.

"Fire breaks behind the community," said mitigation specialist Melissa Yunas.

Her job was created after 1998.

Firefighters make prescribed burns and fire breaks a priority in wildfire-prone areas near neighborhoods.

"Minimizing the loss of homes because basically from 1998 all the way to 2001, we lost (a) substantial amount of homes," said Harn.

Education is a factor as well. A majority of fires now are caused by lightning.