Agriculture Press Release

March 5, 1999

Wildfires Hit Central And South Florida

TALLAHASSEE With more than 100 wildfires occurring during the past weekend, Florida Agriculture Commissioner Bob Crawford urged residents to prepare now to protect their homes against wildfire.

"This past weekend has been a wake-up call to those who doubted that wildfire is still a serious threat," Crawford said.

More than 3,000 acres burned in just three days, causing destruction or damage to homes in Alachua County and a citrus grove in Highlands County. Hundreds of people were forced to flee to safety from Gatorland, in Osceola County, as fires continued to burn in swamps in several parts of the state. More than three dozen homes were saved by state forestry personnel in Port Charlotte and Highlands County.

Low humidity, high winds and elevated drought indices have increased wildland fire activity, causing state forestry officials to suspend burning authorizations in many areas.

In response to the wildfire activity, Crawford has directed a task force of tractors and engines to Southwest Florida to assist in wildfire suppression. Two Division of Forestry helicopters have also been repositioned to Central and South Florida.

For information about protecting property from wildfire, including the use of prescribed fire, contact your local Division of Forestry office.


For more information:

Jim Karels (850) 488-6111
Terence McElroy (850) 488-3022

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