By Katelyn Hoverkamp
Polk County Fire Rescue 

Wildfire Threat Continues in Polk, Extreme Caution Urged

Sparse Rainfall During Winter Months :Leads to Dangerous Conditions

 

Last updated 3/13/2023 at 10:36am

News file photo

Wildfires pose an annual threat in Florida, especially during the winter and spring, when dry weather leads to critical danger.

A very dry January and February in the Lake Wales area have led to critically dry conditions, despite a few scattered showers passing over the area. This week humidity levels will once again approach red-flag conditions, making any fire a severe risk.

As drought conditions prevail and low humidity persists, Polk County Fire Rescue (PCFR) would like to encourage the public to help prevent accidental bush fires throughout the county.

Since January 2023, Polk County Fire Rescue firefighters have responded to 102 brush fires throughout the county.

"As the lack of rainfall continues throughout Polk County, our commitment to community risk reduction will continue to focus on being proactive and responsive," said Polk County Fire Rescue Chief, Hezedean A. Smith, D.M. "As partners, Polk County Fire Rescue needs the public's help reducing the chances of these brush fires occurring."

Polk County's current Keetch-Byram Drought Index (KBDI) score is averaging 458. The Keetch-Byram Drought Index (KBDI) is a continuous reference scale used by the Florida Forest Service to assess the risk of fire by estimating the dryness of the soil and duff layers.

Here are a few tips to help reduce the chances of a brush fire from igniting:

• Secure trailer safety chains properly to prevent them from sparking on asphalt;

• Dispose of cigarette butts properly;

• Do not litter or accumulate piles of dry debris;

• Keep lawns hydrated and maintained - dry grass and shrubs can fuel wildfires;

• Do not park a hot vehicle over dry vegetation;

• local laws regarding open fires, including campfires;

• Carefully dispose of hot charcoal;

• Never leave a fire unattended, especially overnight;

• Do not burn anything outside on windy days;

• Don't spill gasoline or motor oil on grass or other dried vegetation;

• Limit activities or use of machinery that may emit sparks; and

• Keep a sufficient water source nearby when grilling or starting a campfire.

 

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