ALACHUA COUNTY, FL - Florida has two major weather-related seasons: hurricane season from June to November and wildfire season from December to June. While information on how to prepare for hurricane season is plentiful, wildfire season information is scarce.
One tool for keeping wildfire awareness in the public eye is the "Red Flag Warning!". It is used on radio weather updates, television news show, in the newspaper, and on internet weather sites. It is important to understand the meaning of this phrase. A "Red Flag Warning!" means that conditions are right for fires to get started easily and quickly. Causes may be the careless disposal of cigarettes, the unattended and improperly put out campfire, sparks or heat from a lawnmower or other vehicle in dry grass, debris burning, or arson.
Even when conditions have not escalated to the "Burn Ban" level, the "Red Flag Warning!" reminds us to be diligent in the prevention of wildfires.
Most of Florida, Alachua County included, has sandy soils, which means that rain quickly soaks into the ground, leaving the topsoil and vegetation dry in a matter of hours or days. With ground water at lower levels, due to years of dryer than normal weather and increased human demand for water, the soils drain even more quickly than in decades past.
This sets the stage for unintentional fires to start easily and to get out of hand suddenly. Alachua County Fire/Rescue urges citizens to be extremely cautious using fire outside, to dispose of cigarette butts properly, and to put off mowing until after a good rain.
For more information, contact Alachua County Fire Rescue Public Education at 352-384-3101 or the Division of Forestry website at http://www.fl-dof.com/