Abnormally dry conditions spark brush fire concerns

Posted at 10:32 PM, Jan 28, 2017
and last updated 2017-01-30 06:44:16-05

COLLIER COUNTY, Fla. -- Abnormally dry conditions are creating concern for fire officials as Southwest Florida heads into the peak of brush fire season.

"We've already had some significant brush fires which is not normal for this time of year," said John Stanfill, North Collier Fire Rescue Battalion Chief.

According to North Collier Fire Rescue, brush fires are more likely because of a combination of dry conditions and high amounts of vegetation.

Stanfill says Southwest Florida experienced a wet summer which led to more vegetation growth that dried out during the dry winter.  "Vegetation is a pretty strong fuel for brush fires," said Stanfill.

Fire officials urge residents to remove flammable objects from around their homes to reduce the likelihood of a mishap.  "Create a 30 ft buffer around their home," said Stanfill. "If they could look on their roofs in their gutters make sure that, that's clear of debris," he added. 

Stanfill suggests residents should continue taking safety precautions through April because relief isn't forecasted anytime soon.

"It's definitely dry," said John Stanfill. "we're anticipating the same weather pattern we're having now up until rainy season starts again," said John Stanfill, Battalion chief North Collier Fire Rescue.

A town hall meeting will be held Tuesday at the Collier Agricultural center at 14700 Immokalee Road to discuss brush fire concerns. The event begins at 7 p.m.