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Tavares, Florida 32778


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Lake County Department of Public Safety warns residents about drifting wildfire smoke

RELEASE DATE: April 20, 2007

TAVARES — Clouds of smoke began drifting over Lake County today and is expected to continue through the weekend as strong southerly winds are believed to be pushing the smoke from wildfires in southern Georgia.

"What we're experiencing are the effects of upper level winds drifting the smoke into the Central Florida area," said Lake County Deputy Fire Chief John Jolliff.

According to the State of Georgia Governor's Office, the state's request for federal fire suppression aid was approved on April 19 by FEMA for the 20,000-acre Sweat Farm Road fire that has destroyed 11 structures and is threatening the city of Waycross.

The Lake County Department of Public Safety would like to advise residents not to call into emergency phone numbers, such as 911 and dispatch centers, unless there is a life and safety emergency. On Friday, these call centers began receiving an increased volume of incoming calls due to inquisitive residents asking about the smoke.

According to the Lake County Health Department, smoke from the Georgia wildfire may pose a health danger to individuals in Lake County, especially those in certain high-risk groups. Among those who can be most directly affected by smoke exposure are individuals with heart and respiratory diseases, older adults, children and pregnant women. Residents of areas affected by drifting smoke should limit outdoor activity and physical exertion. Other recommendations include:

  • Keep the windows and doors in your home closed, and use your air conditioner on the re-circulate mode, if available, to limit the intake of outdoor air and keep your home comfortable.
  • Contact your doctor if you have symptoms such as chest pain, chest tightness, shortness of breath, or severe fatigue.
  • Follow an asthma management plan, making sure those with asthma have at least a five-day supply of medication on hand.
As Lake County continues to be under a red-flag warning for wildfires, the Department of Public Safety would like to remind residents that a countywide burn ban, in accordance with County Code 10.5-75, is still in effect. The mandatory burn ban affects all of unincorporated Lake County and prohibits all outdoor burning that has not been specifically permitted by the Florida Division of Forestry. This includes burning yard waste, bon fires and campfires on private or County property.

One of the more effective ways to reduce the possibility of wildfires is to clear underbrush or debris blown down in storms. These dry plants and vegetation create more fuel for wildfires. It is recommended that homeowners try to maintain a 30-foot defensible space around their home to act as a firebreak.

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Lake County media contact:
Communications Department
Public Information Coordinator
Office: 352-343-9603; Cell: 352-455-0445
klafollette@lakecountyfl.gov

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