Governor Rick Scott issued an executive order Tuesday declaring a state of emergency in Florida due to recent wildfires across the state and the high potential for them to continue.
The executive order states that much of Central and South Florida are experiencing extreme drought conditions and forecasts predict hotter and drier conditions than normal in the coming months. The order is intended to make it easier for agencies to share firefighting resources.
Florida wildfires have burned 250 percent more acreage during the first three months of 2017 than during the same time period last year, according to a statement by Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam.
“There is no corner of the state that is not facing severe wildfire conditions,” Putnam stated.
The Florida Forest Service reported 107 active wildfires across more than 20,000 acres in Florida as of Monday. Florida State Forester Jim Karels said about 90 percent of the wildfires so far this year have been caused by humans.
“Don’t think you’re the one who can burn trash and get away with it. It just takes one spark to get caught by the wind to set a neighbor’s property on fire,” Putnam said.
In efforts to regulate wildfires, U.S. Forest Service are conducting “burnouts” across the state. By burning surrounding vegetation and creating a boundary for the fire, other inhabited areas can be protected.
With the executive order, Governor Scott is ensuring that every resource will be available to combat these wildfires to protect life, property and wildlife. The order allows for the Division of Emergency Management to mitigate plans to react to any state of emergency — which could mean more frequent burnouts.
The Florida Forest Service recommends using extreme caution when handling outdoor fires and heat sources during such dry conditions.
The News Service of Florida contributed to this report.