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State warns of wildfire dangers

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Pointing to dry conditions and high temperatures, the Florida Forest Service on Thursday warned about wildfire threats in the state.

Almost every county in Florida is below normal rainfall for September, with dry conditions particularly affecting the Panhandle, the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, which includes the forest service, said in a news release.

"Florida's dry conditions and high temperatures pose elevated wildfire threats throughout the state," Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried said. "I encourage all Floridians and visitors to be vigilant and cautious with all outdoor fire."

State Forester Jim Karels, the director of the forest service, said conditions in parts of Northwest Florida are worsened by timber that was heavily damaged in last year's Hurricane Michael.

"Conditions are especially dangerous for firefighters working to suppress fires in the Panhandle where Hurricane Michael left an exponential volume of damaged timber resulting in dense pockets of vegetation," Karels said.