TAVARES — With dry conditions contributing to an increase in recent brush fires in Lake County, the National Weather Service has issued a Fire Weather Watch, which means that critical fire weather conditions are forecast to occur. Lake County Fire Rescue Chief Jim Dickerson is urging residents to think twice before burning yard waste or building recreational fires.
“Currently, Lake County has experienced several large acreage fires that were caused by unattended trash fires,” said Chief Dickerson. “While the county has not implemented a burn ban at this time, we are asking our residents and business owners to exercise extreme caution until our rainy season begins.”
When cooking outdoors using gas or charcoal grills, residents should keep a constant watch for any stray sparks or embers. Additionally, ATVs, dirt bikes, and even lawn mowers can pose a risk for accidental ignition. An effective way to reduce the possibility of wildfires near homes is to clear underbrush or debris blown down during storms, as dry plants and vegetation create fuel for wildfires.
If burning yard waste, follow these tips to prevent wildfires:
• Never leave a fire unattended and abide by burn pile setbacks.
• Have extinguishment capability at all times.
• Fully extinguish all outside fires prior to leaving them unattended.
• Recheck burn piles each day for several days after the initial fire, as fires have a tendency to travel below grade and once the soil dries out a fire can reignite later.
• Never burn during the middle of the day when relative humidity levels are lowest and winds are highest.
• Report any signs of smoke or fire by calling 911.
The career firefighters of Lake County Fire Rescue protect county residents and visitors in an area covering approximately 1,200 square miles, with nearly 70,000 residences and up to 2,000 commercial properties. For up-to-date news on Lake County Fire Rescue, visit, www.facebook.com/LakeCountyFireRescue, or www.twitter.com/lakefirePIO.