Fire bans not in place despite unusually dry conditions

No rain has fallen in at least a month, but despite drier than normal weather conditions, no restrictions have been issued banning fires in Gulf Islands National Seashore.

Cassity Bromley is the Chief of Resource Science and Stewardship at Gulf Islands National Seashore and said that while no bans are in place at the moment, that doesn’t mean one won’t occur down the road.

“At this point, we have not implemented any special fire restrictions,” Bromley said last week. “But we are always keeping an eye on the weather and fire conditions and we will react as needed.”

On Friday, the Florida Forest Service’s Blackwater Forestry Center raised its Fire Readiness Level to three and is not issuing any authorizations for acreage or pile burns. Fire Readiness Levels are set based on current and predicted weather as well as potential fire behavior and severity. Level 3 requires two FFS firefighting crews and an afternoon aerial patrol. The readiness levels range from one to five.

While no burn bans are in place, the forest service is urging residents to not burn any yard debris until more rain has fallen or conditions improve.

It’s been more than 60 days since the last significant rainfall in the area and the Keetch-Byram Drought Index shows Blackwater’s mean rating at 612, which is in the severe drought category. The normal rating is between 241 and 420.

“It’s dry. Everybody knows that,” said Joe Zwierzchowski, the wildlife mitigation specialist for Blackwater Forest. “It’s been awhile since we’ve seen any rain and there’s not much in the forecast so we are simply asking people to not burn right now. It’s just too dangerous.”


Read the full article in the Nov. 3 issue of Navarre Press. Click here to subscribe online for as little as $38 per year.

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