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Burn bans in effect in St. Lucie, Indian River counties

Extremely dry conditions prompt executive orders
2 new wildfires in St. Lucie and Martin counties
Posted at 12:16 PM, Apr 08, 2023

TREASURE COAST, Fla. — Two Treasure Coast counties — St. Lucie and Indian River — have issued local states of emergency and burn bans due to the extremely dry conditions.

St. Lucie County Public Safety officials, in conjunction with the St. Lucie County Fire District, issued the ban immediately Friday due to the extremely dry conditions.

Indian River followed suit Saturday.

The bans are in effect until 8 a.m. on April 15 or until further order.

RELATED: Treasure Coast drought concerns increase as need for rain grows

“After collaborating with our neighboring counties, we decided it is in the best interest of our residents to issue a Burn Ban today," Dave Johnson, emergency services director, said in a news release."

Mike Zito, interim administrator, said the ban went into effect at 8 a.m. Saturday.

“The Treasure Coast has experienced dry weather for an extended period of time, prompting the Emergency Order,” Mike Zito said.

The orders prohibit all outdoor burning that has not been specifically permitted by the Florida Forestry Service, including outdoor burning of yard trash, household paper products, bonfires, campfires, warming fires, outdoor fireplaces, chimeneas and cooking fires unless authorized by the FFA it is for the cooking of food exclusively within a gas or charcoal grill.

Also, the setting of fires to any grass, brush or forest-covered land is prohibited unless authorized by the Florida Forest Service.

Motorists are asked to use extreme caution and avoid keeping vehicles parked with the motor running or driving over dry, grassy areas.

“We are urging all of our residents to use extreme caution and report any outside burning or fireworks to 9-1-1,” St. Lucie County Public Safety Director Ron Guerrero said in a news release. “Our firefighters, along with the Florida Forest Service, have done an excellent job of keeping St. Lucie County safe. Let’s not put them in harm’s way.”

The Keetch-Byram Drought Index for St. Lucie County is in the 600-range out of 800. An index level between 500-549 is moderate; 550-649 is high; 650-699 is very high and anything above 700 is extreme.

The last time St. Lucie County issued a countywide burn ban was in the spring of 2017.

Martin County does not have a state of emergency or burn ban like this in effect.

“As of right now, we are not allowing open burning in Martin County," fire rescue said in a statement. "We are updated daily by Florida Forestry Services with our open burning status. With the drought index over 600, we are not anticipating FFS allowing open burning anytime soon. We are closely monitoring the drought index daily and will advise if a county-wide burn ban goes into effect.”