Tips for keeping your home safe as fire risks increase

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A red flag fire warning was issued Friday for parts of Southwest Florida, according to the National Weather Service.

The warning will remain in effect until 9 p.m. for inland Charlotte and Lee counties due to a long duration of critically low humidity, the weather service said.

Dry air is expected to remain in place across these areas for the next couple of days, the weather service said.

A lawn mower that hit a rock caused a 7,000-acre fire last year in the Golden Gate Estates. And fire officials are determined to keep that from happening again this fire season.

With windy and dry weather approaching this weekend, conditions are ripe for the same risk.

“One of the biggest things this season, the day gets dryer as it goes. So if you come out at 9 a.m. to mow the lawn and it’s dry already…probably not a good day to continue,” said James Gregory, a forestry supervisor.

Gregory says Florida is on a six-year natural burn cycle. That’s what officials call “good fires.” But bad fires happen when people are careless.

“I think when you see things in your yard all the time, you don’t recognize it could be flammable,” said Heather Marzurkiewicz with NCFR.

Any sort of brush can instantly become fuel. Even professionals had to learn this when the Picayune Strand controlled burn first got out of control two weeks ago.

And now fire officials are asking people to clear out their brush immediately—to keep their homes safe.

“We wanna make sure any openings in the home, including pet doors, are screened off and closed to stop embers that can travel a mile from entering the home,” Marzurkiewicz said.

And remember: the smallest spark can start the biggest fire.

Also good to remember is the 30-foot rule. Keep at least 30 feet of defensible space between brush and your home.

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