Fire season is starting to heat up in Southwest Florida with fire danger ranging from high to extreme on Friday. Fire departments are gearing up for what could be a busy weekend when it comes to brush fires.
Especially with the recent heat wave, breezy conditions and low relative humidity. All three could help drive a brushfire, especially with the recent lack of rain. Speaking of rain, we haven’t seen measurable rain in 20 days. That mixed heavy, dry brush, a fire can rapidly spread. Amy Bollen with South Trails Fire District says that folks need to very careful this weekend.
“Right now with our drought conditions,” said Bollen. "The windy, dry conditions, we are at high level or chance of having the ability of having a brush fire.”
On Friday, South Trails assisted with a small brush fire in Lehigh Acres that threatened 3 homes. Luckily, that fire was kept at one acre and is now out. Bollen says with our current conditions it is a recipe for disaster.
“They move very quickly,” said Bollen. “It’s not like a hurricane. A hurricane you can predict and you can plan for. When a brush happens families don’t have time to react. They have pack up and leave when told to.”
With brush fires occur, the ready, set, go method is used to keep people safe.
Ready: being aware of the fire conditions
Set: be ready to leave
Go: leave immediately
And while this weekend will see elevated fire weather, Bollen expects these conditions to continue to worsen over the coming weeks and months.
“This is the beginning of it,” said Bollen. “It’s just the beginning of March. March tends to be a very windy month. And knowing that wind is going to fuel that fire. It’s going to make that fire move faster.”
Right now, the best thing you do is make sure you have the proper 30 feet of defensible space around your home. Bollen also suggests being what she calls lean, clean, and green.
“So right now, if there is any kind of watering schedule for you follow, follow it,” said Bollen. “Keep your lawn watered. Clean up. With the wind and just this time of year a lot of leaves are falling a lot of oak trees are falling, Pine needles. Clean that up. Especially from your gutters and roof.”
Fox 4 also spoke to Sean Allen, the manager of Caloosahatchee Division of Florida Forest Service on the phone Friday. He says that forest service is preparing for what he feels could be a busy weekend and they will be ready should a fire start.