Amid dry wild fire season, why hasn't Lee County implemented a burn ban?

Posted at 8:31 PM, Apr 26, 2017
and last updated 2017-04-26 22:37:08-04

Amid the dry wild fire season, Lee County is the only county in southwest Florida which hasn't issued a burn ban.

Several cities and at least 23 fire districts within Lee County have issued burn bans, but the county itself has yet to do so.

Four in Your Corner heard from several viewers who were wondering why the county hasn't followed suit, so we took their concerns straight to the county.

A spokesperson for the county said the criteria to implement a burn ban has not been met yet. This includes:
- The U.S. Drought Index (a long-term index) has to be rated as “severe”;
- The Palmer Index (a short-term index) has to be rated as “severe”’; and
- The Keetch-Byram Drought Index or KBDI (a daily rating) must exceed 700.

The Florida Forest Service does encourage a burn ban.

"We've had 49 wildfires in Lee County since the first of the year, and all but one are human caused. So, if we could just take a fraction of those and take them out of the equation because of a burn ban, that would help the process along," Samantha Quinn with the Florida Forest Service said.

She said fires could start looking more familiar. Southwest Florida was seeing wildfire activity typical to May in March.

"We haven't seen the worst yet. It's going to get drier, we're not going to see the rains. There's no question. It's not if, it's when," Quinn said.

The Florida Forest Service said if you're asked to evacuate during a fire, do so immediately so fire crews can focus on fighting the fire, and not on you. You're also asked to be prepared and have an evacuation plan in place.

It also recommends creating good defensible space by clearing out brush to stop a fire from entering your property, and to help crews create a containment line. Forestry Officials said to make sure your roofs and gutters are clean.

For more information and tips to stay safe from wildfires, click here, or download the Florida Burn Tools app.