Tuesday, 20 March 2007 00:00
Burn BanWritten by WGCU Newsroom
Lee County Commissioners issued a ban on outdoor burning Tuesday – prompted by what they call severe drought conditions.
March is always a dry month – and this year even more so. So far this March forestry officials have responded to 31 wildfires in Lee, Collier and Hendry counties – the average for the entire month is 29. Forestry spokesman Jerry LaCavera says remaining hurricane debris, lack of rain and dry vegetation has created a dangerous situation. He urges caution.
"this time of the year all of our fires are started by people – so the price tag is – they need to be careful – they need to use their heads anytime they’re doing anything involving fire or a flame. anytime they’re using anything that has extreme heat or can cause sparks – they need to use their heads and not be careless."
The ban on outdoor burning in Lee County is for 7 days. LaCavera says March and April are historically the region’s driest months so the ban will most likely be extended.
Forestry officials say drought-like conditions prevail throughout much of southwest Florida. Lee County officials have responded by banning outdoor burning until further notice. Forestry official Jerry LaCavera says this year’s dry season is exacerbated by a six inch rainfall deficit. And as usual this time of year, it’s windy.
"march and april are times when a lot of fronts come through and they bring changes in wind and more forceful winds – but we also expect high winds during this period – and its not unlikely that we have those winds driving wildfires very quickly."
LaCavera urges caution – when conditions are this dry the smallest spark can be fanned into a wildfire. The summer pattern of afternoon showers usually becomes established in June – with the arrival of hurricane season.