Dry conditions causing fire concerns

Florida Forest Service says fire danger risk very high in Duval County


JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Dry conditions are causing concern for fire officials, who said the fire danger risk in Duval County is very high as of Tuesday.

According to a map by the Florida Forest Service, most of the counties surrounding Duval have a high to moderate fire danger risk.

Florida Forest Service officials said people to need to be aware of their surroundings and use caution when lighting campfires and starting up their grills. 

For homeowners, it’s important to remove what fire officials call fuel -- pine needles and dead vegetation, which can both light up as a fire spreads.

Mike Work, forestry operations manager for the Florida Fire Service, said that nearly everything can fuel a fire right now, during the dry season.

This time of year we get lack of rainfall because it's the dryer part of the year. Our vegetation and trees are growing. They're sucking up the moisture out of the ground and that helps to the dryness of the fuels and the ground moisture,” Work said. "Your grasses are very fine, so it takes about an hour for this type of twig or the grass to dry out.”

Humidity, wind speed and temperature determines the size of the fire and how fast it spreads.

"Really good example of how it's growing to the latter fuels, is what we call them, into the canopy of the tree,” Pat Sluski, a forest ranger, told News4Jax at one area that was set on fire.

Firefighters were battling three fires in the Jacksonville area. As of Tuesday, all three were put out.

One fire burning in Clay County that started Sunday is being monitored by officials because it's still smoking.

Officials said everyone needs to be careful when using grills and setting bonfires. People need to make sure there is at least a 10-foot dirt clearance around it and a metal fire ring to hold the fire in.

"Every day without rain dries the fuels out another day. The more often we get rainfall the better off our fire conditions are going to be,” Work said.

Officials said there are no restrictions of prescribed burns, although the Florida Fires Service is not doing anything because of the current conditions.