Florida Forest Service: 70 wildfires in South Florida this year, majority caused by people

Posted at 11:04 PM, Apr 11, 2017

As Governor Rick Scott declares a state of emergency in response to an overwhelming number of wildfires, the Florida Forest Service offers tips to homeowners on how they can protect their homes.

The view behind a townhome development in Palm Beach Gardens went from a beautiful natural preserve to charred palm trees. A brush fire behind the community off Central Boulevard came dangerously close to homes.

"It was very close to our house," said Diana Hidalgo, about the first time there was a brush fire behind her home last month.

This is the second brush fire in preserve off near Central Boulevard in the last month. This time the fire came so close to the townhomes, it melted light fixtures.

"With no rainfall in the forecast in the future it's going to get worst," said Scott Peterich, Florida Forest Service Wildfire Mitigation Specialist.

Peterich admits the weather plays a huge role, but so do people.

"People might not even realize they are doing it," said Peterich.

Like having dead vegetation around your home or flammable plants.

"This is Palmetto, it looks green and it looks like it would fire resistant but it’s not, it’s extremely flammable," said Peterich.

Add wind to the equation and embers can carry the fire up to a half mile away.

"You might not be right next to the woods, but you could be in very serious danger due to embers floating on your roof," added Peterich.

Peterich recommends you clear your gutters and roofs of any leaf litter or pine needles, clear out the debris from your yard and keep vegetation green. There are also less obvious actions that can cause brush fires like using recreational vehicles on dry vegetation or parking your car on the grass.

Peterich said preserves are at a high risk for wildfires.