Published: Jan 06, 2011 9:21 PM EST
Updated: Jan 06, 2011 6:21 PM EST

Thursday's rain was welcome, but temporary, relief from wildfire activity. Chances for wildfires remain strong without sustained rains.  Vegetation in Collier, Lee and Hendry counties will quickly dry out as temperatures get colder over the next several days.
 
The long-term weather forecast indicates that Southwest Florida will have a drier than normal Spring.
 
Peak months for wildfire activity in Collier, Lee and Hendry counties are March-May, and we frequently deal with wildfires until steady rains come near the end of June. Even in the so-called rainy season, we regularly experience wildfires, often from lightning strikes, throughout our three counties.
 
Caloosahatchee Forestry Center officials remind everyone that wildfire safety is a shared responsibility. Please keep these tips in mind:
 
·         Remove dense fuels, trim overhanging branches, and carefully plan your landscaping within 30 feet of homes.
·         Prune tree limbs so the lowest branches are 6 to 10 feet from the ground.
·         Remove any large groupings of plants like saw palmetto, yaupon, wax myrtle and gallberry, especially if the plants are close to the home, adjacent decks or porches or under eaves or overhangs.
·         Instead of flammable mulch like bark or wood chips, use lava stone or coarse gravel around any shrubbery that is within 5 feet of the structure.
·         Locate firewood and propane gas tanks at least 50 feet from the structure.
·         Keep driveways clear of overhanging branches and ensure driveways are 12-14 feet wide.
 
We are happy to provide guidance to our residents about how they can make their properties safe from wildfires.