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Drier weather pattern brings risk for wildfires

Posted at 12:24 PM, Nov 28, 2018
and last updated 2018-11-28 12:27:44-05

You need to be on alert for wildfires during this colder, drier time of the year.  

The Florida Forest Service has been conducting prescribed burns -- most recently at McCarty Ranch in Western Port St. Lucie -- helping to burn off the dry vegetation that could cause a wildfire.

A fire watch was issued for much of the Treasure Coast on Wednesday, but was cancelled. Still, with dry and windy conditions, it's important to be mind while grilling, smoking or burning anything outdoors.

Florida's dry season started in mid-October. Luckily, we’ve seen plenty of rain recently to keep fires at bay.

“We did have a little bit of dry period about two weeks ago, where it got to where we were actually running little fires along the highway," said Melissa Yunas with the Florida Forest Service.

But it's not too late for you to start protecting your home.

"Remove the pine needles. Remove the dead sticks and twigs, and you won’t catch the green stuff on fire," she said. "Take the time to know what's flammable and not flammable and know that you can really reduce your wildfire risk."

Some starting points include clearing pine needles and dry leaves from your roof and gutters and clear any overhanging branches from your roof. In the trees, remove dead hanging branches and hanging vines.

On the ground, pay attention to the cabbage palm trees, which have dead palm fronds covering the entire trunk down to the bottom.

“These dead palm fronds -- remove these," said Yunas, adding that you should scrape those dead fronds about halfway up the tree. "Clean out the dead vegetation that is stuck inside.”

Yunas said green grass does not burn. If you can, keep a 30-foot space of green grass out from your home. If you can't keep up with watering it, try using rocks.

“If you have a nice green grass by for around your house, then you have a defensible space area," she said.

If you like to garden, make sure to check what you're using around it.

"So if you like to garden like I do, you might think well, I'll put pine straw around my house. Well, you've just added a flammable border around your house. So rocks or mulch are less flammable," said Yunas.