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Officials warn of fire dangers during the month of April; 15 fires in Lee for ’08

By Staff | Apr 8, 2008

Wildfire Awareness Week, which runs through Saturday, is an effort to keep citizens informed of the increased risk of wildfires this time of year.

The week of recognition, April 6-12, was named by Florida Agriculture and Consumer Services Commissioner Charles Bronson.

“March, April and May are usually the most active months of Florida’s year-round wildfire season,” Bronson said in a prepared statement. “We have been fortunate in the amount of rainfall we have received up to this point this year, but there is a very good chance that we will see an increase in wildfire activity over the next few months.”

Wildfire Awareness Week is designated for the second week of April to recognize the 1998 wildfire season, when the state of Florida saw more than a half-million acres burned, including 337 homes and other structures damaged or destroyed from fires.

So far in 2008, 776 wildfires have burned 14,523 acres in Florida, reports the Florida Department of Forestry. In Lee County, the department has responded to 15 fires that have burned a total of 81.4 acres.

By comparison, in 2007 the agency reported 39 fires burning 552 acres by this time of the year.

The amount of fires have been substantially less this year, “mostly because people are listening to what we’re saying and not being careless,” said department spokesperson Gerry LaCavera.

Cape Coral has seen several wildfires this year, the most recent burning 46 acres last week near Burnt Store Road at the Lee-Charlotte counties border.

That fire was completely contained, according to officials.

Most of the fires are caused by human carelessness, according to the Florida Department of Forestry.

“Floridians can take additional precautions to help prevent wildfires by reporting all suspicious fires to 911 or their local DOF office, never leaving a campfire unattended, disposing of cigarettes properly and making sure all vehicles and equipment have properly working spark arrestors,” Bronson is quoted as saying.

For more information of preventing fires and rules and regulations of burning, contact your local DOF office at 690-3500, or visit its Web site at: www.fl-dof.com.