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Prescribed burns during dry season dangerous but necessary

Posted: 9:16 PM, May 29, 2019
Updated: 2019-05-29 22:33:20-04
 fire departments

CAPE CORAL, Fla. — Fires like the one that happened in Fort Myers are not uncommon here in Southwest Florida leaving homeowners such as Robert Mcmahon worried about what could have been lost.

Robert Mcmahon, owner of Southern Fresh Farms says "we were a little worried there for a while because the winds were coming out of the east, and we're obviously on the east side of the burn."

The fire that threatened his home and business was caused after a neighbor was burning trash.

This is one of several fires from this week alone some were planned, prescribed burns that got out of control. Like one in Collier County .

"Fire is a force of nature, and sometimes the fire burns controlled burns extend past their boundaries."
Heather Mazurkiewicz, public information officer North Collier Fire

That's more likely to happen when temperatures are hot, and the heat is dry, so why are they doing it now?

Ecologist Win Everham, FGCU professor of marine and ecological sciences says it's better for Florida's ecosystem because doing prescribed fires before fire season starts, throws off the natural system.

Everham, says "some trees won't reproduce the same way, some plants won't be opening their flowers when the pollinators are here, because we're putting fire on a natural landscape at an unnatural time of the year."

To make sure controlled burns don't get out of control, the North Collier Fire District recommends checking the criteria to burn that day.

"Criteria like the winds have to be less than 10 miles an hour for the day, or predicted winds, the relative humidity needs to be above 45 percent".
Heather Mazurkiewicz, public information officer of the North Collier Fire District

Some of those benefits of prescribed burns include wildlife management, fuel reduction, and disease control but it's still good to check with your local fire agency about getting a burn permit and whether or not the conditions are safe.