To stop a fire, sometimes the Florida Park Service first has to start a fire.
From Jan. 27 to Feb. 2, the Florida Park Service Prescribed Fire Awareness Week is trying to let people know that controlled burns play a key role in maintaining Florida’s ecosystem.
The Florida Forest Service uses these controlled burns to limit actual uncontrolled wildfires throughout the state.
According to wildfire mitigation specialist Ludie Bond, the biggest wildfire months are ahead.
The prescribed fire burns low-level foliage that could otherwise burn uncontrollably. “As we burn out the underbrush,” Bond said, “we’re lessening the severity of those wildfires.”
The Florida Forest Service issues these prescribed burns based on weather and wind conditions.
Local residents concerned about smoke can check the the Florida Forest Services website for a map listing the locations of the controlled burns and the actual wildfires.
An Alachua County health department environmental administrator, Anthony Dennis, adds that while rare, excessive inhalation of the smoke could prove harmful.
“Wildfire smoke is an irritant,” he said. “It can irritate the eyes, the throat, the nose, and the health department recommends avoiding prolonged exposure to that smoke.”
Cassandra Ganter wrote this story online.