TAVARES — In response to an executive order by Governor Scott for the State of Florida, which outlines the ongoing dangers of wildfires throughout the state, Lake County Fire Rescue (LCFR) announced today that the wildfire response level for the County is being raised from “elevated” to “extreme”, the highest response level.
The Keetch-Byram Drought Index for the State is averaging 649, and The Division of Forestry is reporting that a total of 310 active wildfires covering approximately 115,583 acres are currently burning in the State. With all of Central Florida experiencing extreme drought conditions, chances of wildfires erupting are significantly increased.
As part of the extreme wildfire response level, LCFR has partnered with fire rescue personnel from Eustis, Mount Dora, Tavares, Leesburg, Groveland, Clermont, Mascotte, the Villages and Volusia County to establish structure protection strike teams. The teams will be broken out into North, Central and South and in the event of a wildfire, will be dispatched to their respective areas to minimize the chance of damage to structures.
LCFR would also like to remind residents that unincorporated Lake County is currently under a mandatory burn ban, which was enacted on June 3. Any burning within unincorporated Lake County will be in violation and will be considered a second-degree misdemeanor, punishable by up to a 60-day imprisonment and up to a $500 fine.
In addition to the burn ban, the use of any fireworks, sparklers, flares, or other pyrotechnic devices other than provided for public displays requiring a permit, is strongly discouraged.
Because of the dangers for fireworks to spark wildfires, LCFR is strongly suggesting that you attend only professional public fireworks displays, as they require a fireworks permit issued by the Fire Marshal's Office.
According to the National Fire Protection Association, more U.S. fires are reported on Independence Day than any other day, and fireworks account for half of those fires, more than any other cause of fires. In 2009, fireworks caused an estimated 18,000 reported fires, including 1,300 total structure fires, 400 vehicle fires, and 16,300 outside and other fires.
For more information about wildfire prevention, call the Lake County Department of Public Safety at (352) 343-9458.