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Firefighters on alert as drought conditions persist

Posted at 5:51 PM, Mar 29, 2017
and last updated 2019-03-26 17:01:41-04

A small lot in the Torino neighborhood of Port St. Lucie shows the scars from a brush fire earlier this month, a busy one for firefighters.

“We have seen an increase of about 30% in run volume to actual brush fires," said St. Lucie County Fire District Deputy Chief Brian Blizzard.

On Dowell Court, a vinyl fence melted, and a wooden fence was destroyed, but no homes were damaged.

However, Melissa Yunas with the Florida Forest Service says drought-like conditions cause fierce fires.

"As the ash rained down from this fire, it traveled beyond the street, beyond the house, into the woods behind those houses," said Yunas, as crews had to put out a second small fire that day.

The National Interagency Fire Center released a new map Wednesday that shows almost all of Florida with an above normal risk for wildfires in the month of April.  As the dry season continues, the Florida Forest Service says we may be seeing the most intense fire season in five years as this lack of moisture dries out vegetation.

“The shrubs, the trees are all depleted of moisture and the oils, the volatile fuels inside, are ready to ignite," said Yunas.

So the Florida Forest Service and local fire districts have formed closer partnerships to attack fires with added manpower.

“We’ve been able to increase our response, our resources and our personnel. Because the key is to get to these fires as quickly as possible to get them out before they become larger," added Deputy Chief Blizzard.           

Just like hurricane season preps, the Florida Forest Service is reminding homeowners, especially those that live near woods, to have an evacuation plan just in case.