More than 100 wildfires are raging across Florida. Firefighters are battling 20,000 acres of burning land ranging from the state line shared with Georgia all the way down to Miami-Dade County in the southern region of the state.
“Thank God we have the firefighters we do at the local, state and federal level and willing to put their lives at risk to take care of us,” Florida Governor Rick Scott said. “If it hadn’t been for their hard work we would’ve lost a lot of homes all across the state.”
The Florida wildfires prompted Governor Scott to declare a state of emergency on Tuesday. The designation will enable all local, regional, and state agencies to network together more quickly and effectively. Governor Scott said first responders are working together to protect Florida families, communities, and visitors.
— Regina Keenan (@reginakeenan) April 11, 2017
A total of 19 homes have already been destroyed by the wildfires in Florida. Adam Putnam, the state agriculture commissioner, said the current blazes mark the worst wildfire season in six years. In 2011, a group of 107 brush fires also emerged across the state. The wildfires in Florida began springing up in February. The blazes have now burned across 68,000 acres in the state.
A map generated by the Florida Fire Service shows the vast reach of the wildfires. Blazes, possibly due to drought conditions, according to the Weather Channel, stretch from the southern tip of Florida near Lake Okeechobee all the way up to the northern region of the state in the Ocala National Forest. The counties hardest hit by the brush fires so far include Broward, Collier, Glades, Hernando, Marion, and Polk.
Florida officials believe lightning sparked the wildfire in the Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge. The fire has continued to spread for more than nine miles in a forested and swampy region of the state near the Georgia state line.
The biggest wildfire currently being fought by Florida firefighters has been dubbed the Cowbell Fire. The brush fire is burning inside Big Cypress National Preserve in South Florida. Flames are spreading across approximately 8,000 acres north of Interstate 75.
FLORIDA STATE OF EMERGENCY:
– Over 100 wildfires burning right now
– 20,000+ acres are burning
– Most active season for wildfires since 2011 pic.twitter.com/jegSwxcxw7
— Joel Franco (@OfficialJoelF) April 12, 2017
Voluntary evacuations in the northern Tampa area of Pasco County began earlier this week after an emergency shelter was opened for residents and visitors. The evacuation order has since been rescinded and the shelter closed, but local officials are urging residents to be ready to move quickly again if the wildfire situation warrants.
Approximately 40 homes were evacuated in the central Florida region of Ovideo as well. Some tense moments for residents and firefighters alike reportedly prompted the evacuation of the area. Another brush fire believed to have been sparked by lightning, occurred in Hernando County on Saturday. The fire caused the loss of more than 1,000 acres by Monday.
April and May are typically the driest months of the year in Florida. Even though some of the wildfires may have been caused by lightning, the Florida Fire Service noted about 90 percent of fires which have occurred so far this year have been caused by humans. Health officials are warning individuals with heart problems, asthma, and chronic lung conditions to avoid outdoor activities if wildfires are burning in the vicinity.
The fires in Florida have had a devastating impact on wildlife. The Florida brush fires are causing wild animals to rush into residential areas to escape both the deadly blazes and smoke. Over the weekend Pembroke Pines Police official said a 13-foot python with burns all over its skin was caught in the Everglades Wildlife Management Area by a group of teenagers, MSN reports. The python is now being treated for its burns at an area wildlife park.
[Featured Image by Toa55/Shutterstock]