Putnam takes aim at arson in wildfires


Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam said Friday that more than 240 of the wildfires that have blazed across Florida this year were caused by arson.

And with Gov. Rick Scott declaring a wildfire state of emergency this week, Putnam asked for help from Floridians to reduce the man-made blazes.

"Wildland arsonists place lives, property and natural resources at risk, and we will not tolerate anyone who purposefully endangers Floridians and our first responders," Putnam said in a prepared statement.

The Florida Forest Service has reported 1,494 fires in the state this year, consuming nearly 80,000 acres.

The more than 240 fires stemming from arson represent a nearly 70 percent increase from a year ago, Putnam's office said.

On Wednesday, a day after Scott issued his emergency order, the governor directed the Florida National Guard to provide a UH-60 Blackhawk helicopter for potential firefighting missions.