The U.S. Department of Agriculture Forest Service issued Wednesday a temporary, mandatory ban on campfires in the Ocala National Forest.
According to a press release, the Forest Service was concerned about an increased risk of wildfires due to the weather and extreme drought.
“We want people to have their camp fires in areas that are designated to have fires,” Susan Blake, spokeswoman for the National Forests in Florida, said.
“Basically we don’t want people to camp out and do direct fires on the ground,” she said.
Blake said there are specific areas in the recreational sites that allow campfires and fires for cooking.
“People should be vigilant about extinguishing their fires even if they’re in an area that is designated for stove fires and things of that nature,” Blake said. “It is very dry in the area and we’re trying to do everything we can to eliminate any kind of situation that could result in a fire.”
People who choose to violate this ban are punishable by a fine of not more than $5,000 for an individual and $10,000 for an organization, or imprisonment for not more than six months, or both, according to the press release.
The ban will remain until further notice.