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Agriculture Press Release

April 23, 1999

Crawford Cautions Public to Keep Safety in Mind During Drought

TALLAHASSEE With a warm and sunny weekend full of outdoor activities under way, Florida Agriculture Commissioner Bob Crawford is urging residents and visitors to put wildland fire safety at the top of their "to-do" list.

Severe drought conditions will continue throughout the weekend and Crawford wants to ensure that cookouts and other outdoor activities do not result in disaster. Hes concerned that two days of relatively light fire activity may make residents complacent.

"The only thing that is saving us from catastrophic wildfires occurring is the lack of new ignitions," Crawford said.

The Departments Division of Forestry and the National Forest Service in Florida have established a unified command for the prevention and suppression of wildfires during this period of drought.

"Its crucial that people remember the state is still extremely dry and conditions are ripe for wildfires," Crawford said.

Persons caught carelessly throwing lighted cigarettes out car windows face a fine of up to $500 and up to 60 days in jail, or both. Crawford also reminded people that open burning is not allowed during the continuing drought conditions.

Crawford said there are numerous things people can do to protect themselves and their neighbors from wildfires:

  • DO NOT throw lighted materials out of a motor vehicle.
  • Be cautious when starting or idling vehicles in dry grass catalytic convertors are hot and can start a fire.
  • Create a minimum 30-foot buffer zone around a house by removing heavy and dead vegetation, yard trash and other materials that can act as fuel for fires.
  • Clean roofs and gutters, keeping them free of leaves, pine straw and twigs.
  • Do not store combustibles in the garage or near the house. For example, firewood should be stored away from structures.
  • Be careful when using equipment, such as lawn mowers.
  • Do not use grills in an enclosed porch or under an eave, and do not leave grills unattended.

For more information on the states fire prevention and suppression efforts, visit the Division of Forestry web site at www.fl-dof.com.

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For more information:

Matt Weinell
(850) 488-6111


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