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Cold weather fire dangers

While our recent extreme cold snap may have been a nuisance to most of us, it could potentially be dangerous during the upcoming months.  Basically, because a lot of vegetation that wouldn't normally die during a mild winter could now just be fuel for wildfires.

Dead plants, grass and bushes...   It's a common sight every winter, but even more so this season because temperatures fell way below freezing.   In addition to the cold, our weather has also been wetter than normal, creating a double fire danger.

Joe Zwierzchowski, Wildfire Mitigation Specialist with the Florida Forest Service says, "You're going to see a lot of new growth in the late winter and early spring, and a lot of Florida's new growth, especially up here in northwest Florida, a lot of our new growth is very flammable as soon as it comes up out of the ground."

One way to prevent the quick spreading of wildfires is to implement prescribed burns like one at Big Lagoon State Park.

Geoffrey Davidson is the Park Manager for Big Lagoon, Perdido Key, and Tarklin Bayou Preserve State Parks. He says, "The fine fuels, the grasses and smaller shrubs, when they die and dry out they will carry fire very quickly.  So we'll do burns like this to get ahead of the game to reduce the effects of any wildfire that might happen, lightning strike, cigarette butt, however it goes.  The more we do this, the easier it will be for us to catch it in the future."

And while lightning does ignite some wildfires, most are started by humans.

"Our leading cause of wildfires around here is always man-made.  It's always arson, or accidental, equipment fires can spark this stuff," says Zwierzchowski.

Taking precautions around your home now could make a big difference later.  John Jinks is a local homeowner and says we should take the time to clean up our yards.  "My yard looks like this with dead stuff and live stuff, but I could see how all the dead stuff and that could be an issue."

For more information on burning debris at your home, click here