LEE COUNTY, Fla.- Fire officials want to warn homeowners to get ready for an active fire season, after a very wet rainy season.
Forest area supervisor Michael Weston with the Florida Forest Service says, "we've had some of the worst fire seasons after similar seasons where we got a lot of rainfall, and going into that winter, it got really dry and we saw more and more fire starts." He adds, "the abudance of rainfall we had, everything grew a lot, and it's starting to dry out."
Lehigh Acres saw two brush fires in the past two days.
Cape Coral firefighters are also seeing brush fires pop up.
After responding to several brush fires over the Veteran’s day weekend, Cape Coral firefighters are reminding residents the importance of staying aware of the threat of brush and wildland fires.
Fire officials say, "while springtime marks the height of Florida's wildfire season, the arrival of cooler and drier air in the fall also marks an increase to the risk of woods fires. Cape Coral firefighters responded to two brush fires and several trash fires over the weekend, including a fire in the 2200 block of NE 6th Street sparked by fireworks. Neither that fire, nor a brush fire in the 2000 block of SW 1st Street caused any damage.
While the fires were all quickly extinguished, firefighters are concerned that with each passing cold front will bring dry air and breezy conditions that will help spread a fire. “The Cape’s topography lends itself to an increased fire danger,” said Michael Heeder, department spokesman. “While the south Cape is predominantly urban with a lot of water, the north end of the city is part of the Wildland Urban Interface, and those homes are at the greatest risk.”
Many of the homes in the north side may not have a lot of vegetation, but even a grass fire in windy conditions can damage property,” said Heeder. “Those areas surrounded by trees, especially ones close to structures, may see the greatest risk.”
Cape Coral Emergency Management officials encourage residents to prepare their homes with these wildfire safety tips
· Remove any "ladder fuels". Ladder fuels are vines and shrubs that can carry a ground fire up into the treetops.
· 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.
ALLOW NO FLAMMABLE VEGETATION IN CONTACT WITH THE STRUCTURE.
· Remove highly flammable plants characterized by resinous sap and waxy leaves. These include: saw palmetto, wax myrtle, yaupon, red cedar, cypress and young pine trees.
· Locate firewood and propane gas tanks at least 50 feet from the structure.
· Keep 100 feet of hose readily available at a faucet away from the structure.
· Select less-flammable plant species to plant within the zone of defensible space.
· Teach children about fire safety. Keep matches out of their reach.