District partnering with agencies on fire suppression, urges caution this weekend
PALATKA, Fla., April 14, 2017 -- The St. Johns River Water Management District is providing staff and equipment to help the Florida Forestry Service (FFS) extinguish a blaze of unknown size near district land in Clay County. A second fire in Marion County is extinguished and a third fire at Seminole Ranch Conservation Area is 50 percent contained.
"We have four personnel, two engines and a dozer assisting the Florida Forestry Service at the Clay County fire," said St. Johns River Water Management District Executive Director Dr. Ann Shortelle. "During these abnormally dry and windy conditions, every place is susceptible to fire. The district and many other agencies are assisting one another wherever we are needed."
Earlier Friday, the district responded to a 3.5-acre wildfire on the Ocklawaha Prairie Restoration Area in Marion County and a 35-acre fire at Seminole Ranch Conservation Area (at the convergence of Orange, Brevard, Volusia and Seminole counties). At Seminole Ranch, the district is coordinating with the FFS and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to suppress and contain the fire.
To date, rainfall trends for 2017 have been below average with future predictions for similar trends, creating conditions favorable for wildfire.
Burn bans enacted by counties throughout the district will impact some district properties. Campfires will not be allowed on district properties while burn bans remain in effect. Due to dry conditions, burn bans are currently in effect for Brevard, Nassau, Okeechobee, Orange, Osceola, and Seminole counties.
The public is urged to take preventive measures to avoid igniting a wildfire:
- Do not discard cigarettes, matches and smoking materials from moving vehicles, or anywhere on park grounds. Be certain to completely extinguish cigarettes before disposing of them.
- Remove combustibles, including firewood, yard waste, barbecue grills and fuel cans from your yard.
If caught in a wildfire don't try to outrun the blaze. Instead, look for a body of water such as a pond or river to crouch in.
- If there is no water nearby, find a depressed, cleared area with little vegetation, lie low to the ground, and cover your body with wet clothing, a blanket or soil. Stay low and covered until the fire passes.
- Protect your lungs by breathing air closest to the ground, through a moist cloth, if possible, to avoid inhaling smoke.
The district will continue sharing updated information on current conditions to keep the public and media well informed. For the latest news check out the district's main website at www.sjrwmd.com.