It's wildfire awareness week, and the Florida Forest Service (FFS) is reminding us that extremely dry conditions due to a lack of rainfall has created a situation where the drought index remains super high in South Florida.
Keetch-Byram Drought Index (KBDI) estimates the dryness of the soil and duff layers in a certain area, anging from 0 (wet) to 800 (desert-like dry).
As of Sunday, the KBDI was:
- 640 for Miami-Dade County
- 628 for Broward County
- 609 for Palm Beach County
This has led to tons of wildfire activity throughout the District. From Jan. 1 – April 8, the Everglades District has experienced 67 wildfires (compared to 65 in 2017).
“Our current weather pattern of drought, low relative humidity and windy conditions greatly increase the chance of a wildfire occurring”, said Scott Peterich, Wildfire Mitigation Specialist. “Under these conditions a wildfire will spread very quickly and be much harder to control”.
FFS is asking homeowners to reduce human-caused wildfires and to prepare their home BEFORE a wildfire occurs by using caution with anything that can cause a spar. If you accidentally start a wildfire, FFS says to call 911 immediately.
- Be ready, be Firewise
- Take personal responsibility and prepare long before the threat of a wildland fire
- Create at least a 30 foot defensible space by clearing brush away from your home
- Use fire-resistant landscaping and harden your home with fire-safe construction measures
- Assemble emergency supplies and belongings in a safe spot
- Plan escape routes and make sure all those residing within the home know the plan of action
For information on the Florida Forest Service Arson Alert Hotline, visit the Forest Service website at www.freshfromflorida.com or call or contact the local office of the Florida Forest Service.