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"Driest in the state at this time:" Charlotte County is now under a burn ban

Forget the wet season, it's nowhere to be found in Charlotte County -- yet.
Posted at 5:31 PM, May 28, 2024

CHARLOTTE COUNTY, Fla. — At Tuesday's Charlotte County Commissioners meeting unanimously approved a temporary burn ban, effective immediately.

The burn ban was requested by Charlotte County Public Safety Director and Fire Chief Jason Fair in aletter to commissioners on May 20. In the letter Fair wrote that the county's Keetch-Byram Drought Index(KBDI) score had reached 584 out of 800.

By Tuesday's meeting, the county's KBDI was 629.

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Keetch-Byram Drought Index, May 27, 2024.

KBDI is used to determine the potential for wildfires by measuring the lack of moisture in the soil.

"The conditions are at the point now where if you get a fire, it has the potential to burn quickly and move fast," Fair told the Charlotte County Community Correspondent Alex Orenczuk.

In addition to the current dry conditions, Fair told commissioners that forecasts from the National Weather Service predict higher than average temperatures in county with slim chances of rain.

"Our region, Southwest Florida, is the driest in the state at this time," said Fair.

Fair also mentioned that the downed trees from Hurricane Ian have now dried out, and added to potential forest fire fuel.

"Looking at our drought numbers and conditions, as we continue to get hotter and the drought continues as far as the weather and the soil, keeping in mind too that we are a couple years past a hurricane which means we have dead foliage out there that increases the fuel load," said Fair. "Taking all that into consideration we're at the point where we want to put a burn ban in place to help reduce the potential for a wildfire."

The burn ban prohibits "planned" fires and recreational fires like burning yard waste and lighting fireworks.

Charlotte County is the latest in Southwest Florida to enact a burn ban, others include Sarasota, Hendry and Collier.