ORLANDO, Florida – Florida Governor Rick Scott has declared a state of emergency due to the outbreak of recent wildfires across the Sunshine State and the high potential for increased wildfires in 2017.
National Weather Service forecasters predict hotter and drier conditions than normal in Florida during the coming months. Florida wildfires have already burned 250 percent more acreage during the first three months of 2017 than during the same time period last year. There are currently more than 100 active wildfires across more than 20,000 acres in Florida.
“As wildfires impact our state, our incredible firefighters and first responders have bravely rushed to aid our communities and worked tirelessly to protect our homes and families," Governor Scott said. "Last month I traveled to Collier County with Commissioner Putnam to see the impacts of one of these wildfires firsthand and we have continued to monitor the growing number of fires across the state. I’ve continued to be in contact with Commissioner Putnam and local officials about the wildfires across the state and today I am declaring a state of emergency in Florida to ensure we are ready to respond to and prepare for these fires."
Much of Central and South Florida are approaching drought-like conditions and the chances for wildfires are continuing to increase with hotter temperatures and low rainfall, Scott added. "This may only get worse as we enter the hotter summer months and it is crucial that we take every action right now to be prepared. It is incredibly important that wildfire response is swift and deliberate and this state of emergency will make it easier for our state, regional and local agencies to quickly work together to protect our families, visitors and communities.”
According to Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam, Florida has not had this active of a season since 2011.
Photo credit: Florida Forest Service