Guarding against fire danger during high temperatures, dry conditions in SWFL

Reporter: Asha Patel Writer: Joey Pellegrino
Published: Updated:

High temperatures and dry conditions in Southwest Florida mean everyone is in danger of potential wildfires sparking, but there are plenty of ways to help prevent them.

The most important thing to know is that most brush fires are caused by people: Not putting out campfires properly, driving ATVs and throwing cigarettes out the window are recipes for brush fires.

Katie Heck with the Lehigh Acres Fire Control and Rescue District says people need a plan for keeping themselves and their loved ones safe and that it’s important to make sure there’s defensible space around your home. Depending on your watering schedule, you should water your lawn when you can because green grass will help keep a brush fire from spreading.

“You know, if a hot ember comes from a nearby campfire, a nearby brush fire, [watered grass] just kind of helps add a little bit of a layer of protection to your own properties,” Heck said. “So, definitely following those water schedules or, if you have irrigation, use it.”

A Tuesday brush fire in Lehigh Acres is just one we have had in the past few days; a brush fire in Bonita Springs over the weekend burned 120 acres. Heck says people have to take precautions this time of year.

“I’m just, you know, asking people to just have that heightened awareness right now,” Heck said. “Again, like I said, most of these fires are caused by something that people do, so there’s a lot that people can do to protect their own homes and their communities. We’re just asking people to kind of keep that heightened awareness throughout the dry season.”

Fire officials say if you ride an ATV, it should only be used on paved, gravel, or dirt surfaces and not on grassy areas where they could spark a fire. If you do come across a fire, call the fire department and then stay out of the way. Because of how dry it is right now, you can never predict how quickly a fire can spread or how big it’s going to get.

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