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Florida Forest Service ready to respond to increased brush fire risk

Current fire risk is a 3 out of 5
Posted at 6:11 PM, Mar 31, 2022
and last updated 2022-03-31 18:11:45-04

Weather conditions this week are keeping Florida Forest Service crews on guard.

Gusty winds, low humidity, and warm temperatures could be the perfect recipe for more brush fires, according to Florida Forest Service Wildfire Mitigation Specialist, Miguel Nevarez.

Nevarez is part of a small fire-fighting crew based at the Florida Forest Service station in Western St. Lucie County.

They stay ready, even on seemingly quiet days, to respond to wildfires.

“The first thing that we do in the mornings is check the weather forecast,” Nevarez said. “We kind of monitor what areas are drier than others.”

They make sure all the equipment they might need for small fires to large fires is always ready to go.

Nevarez says the current fire risk is a 3 out of 5, worried it could rise to a 4 if rain holds off through the weekend.

Florida, according to Nevarez, has a year-round risk for fires.

Wildland firefighter Noah Hines says they anticipate more fires, however, between April and August.

“We could go a month and half two months without getting a fire… But then we could get multiple fires in one day.”

Nevarez says it’s also a La Niña year, which he says means the fire risk could stay higher longer.

They also get help from a pilot in a fixed-wing plane that routinely flies searching for plumes of smoke.

“Soon as we get the call, we gear up and we’re out the door. Less than 5 minutes we’re out and headed to that fire.”

Fires in just the last week have kept area fire crews busy, like a 20-acre fire in Indian River County and an 8-acre fire in Juno Beach.

“It really gets your adrenaline going,” Hines described.

“Hope we get some rain over the next few days. If not, we’re just going to have to be even more prepared than we are now,” Nevarez said.

Nevarez said it is also a good time for homeowners to take their own preventative measures around their home, such as cleaning out gutters, trimming trees and bushes away from homes, and keeping grass trimmed to give less fuel to a potential fire.