Firefighters anticipates dangerous wildfire season

Florida has second highest number of wildfires nationwide

(File photo)

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – The months of April, May, June and July set rainfall records across the state. All that rain now has firefighters anticipating a dangerous wildfire season.

Officials are hoping history doesn't repeat itself.

"It would be consistent with the past for us to see a very rainy season end dramatically and go into a period of prolonged drought," said Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam.

Rain, then drought is exactly what happened in 1998, turning the year into one of the worst fire seasons on record. Interstates were closed, more than 100,000 were evacuated as half a million acres burned.

Putnam worries this wildfire season may be just as hazardous.

"When it does stop raining, you got that much more flammable material in the woods to cause a hotter, bigger, faster moving fire," said Putnam.

The latest drought monitor shows more than a quarter of the state as being abnormally dry, a 20 percent increase from the middle of October.

The wildfires of 1998 taught emergency managers they needed to worry about more than hurricanes. Emergency Management Director Bryan Koon said families need to be prepared for every type of severe weather.

"Take a look at what you can do to make sure yourself, your loved ones, your families, your businesses are prepared for any eventuality," said Koon.

Fighting the wildfires in 1998 cost the state more than $133 million.

Nationwide, Florida has the second highest number of wildfires.