State Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried and the Florida Forest Service teamed up on Wednesday to urge Floridians to exercise caution due to the increased threat of wildfires.
Fire danger has increased throughout the state due to windy conditions and critically low relative humidity over the coming days.
Gusty conditions are possible in the Panhandle and Big Bend with the passage of a dry front. A Red Flag Warning has been issued for the entire Panhandle. Parts of Central and all of South Florida will be under a Fire Weather Watch on Thursday afternoon.
“I encourage all Floridians to be aware of the fire danger, exercise caution, follow directives from state and local officials, and help protect our fellow residents, homes, natural resources, and our wildland firefighters during this elevated fire threat,” said Fried.
Since January, the Florida Forest Service has battled nearly 1,100 wildfires that have burned over 18,100 acres across the state and 97 percent of those wildfires were human-caused.
“Due to the elevated fire threat, I am urging the public to avoid yard debris burning,” said Erin Albury, the state forester and the director of the Florida Forest Service. “We are in the peak of our year-round fire activity, and these weather conditions will only add to the existing fire danger.”
The Florida Forest Service, a division of the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, manages more than 1 million acres of state forests and provides forest management assistance on more than 17 million acres of private and community forests. The Florida Forest Service is also responsible for protecting homes, forestland and natural resources from the devastating effects of wildfire on more than 26 million acres.