Jackson County Times

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Friday, July 2, 2010

Plan for a Safe Wildfire-Free 4th of July Holiday Weekend!

Despite brief and random rain showers over the past few weeks, for the most part, Walton, Bay, Gulf, Calhoun, Jackson, Washington and Holmes Counties are still experiencing relatively dry conditions. With that said, wildfire danger will most likely remain at “moderate" throughout the long 4th of July holiday weekend. Except for lightning-caused fires, people can prevent wildfires from starting. Here are some tips for the holiday weekend:

• Be careful when using fire for anything – including campfires and barbecues. Make sure someone watches each fire at all times and be sure it is extinguished before left unattended.

• Know and practice firework safety – be sure fireworks don’t land on dry brush or grass.

• Closely watch for any sparks that might fly from equipment you may be using. This includes not only grinding equipment and torches, but also any lawn care equipment and off-road vehicles.

• Be sure that spark arrestors are in place on all engines used near wildland fuel. Have these engines tuned so they don’t back fire.

• Supervise children and be sure they understand the dangers of fire and the possible consequences of their actions.

• Report any suspicious fire immediately. (In the above listed counties, call 547-7083.)

• If parking on dry grass or brush, remember that the heat of your car can start a fire.

• Extinguish all smoking materials before discarding.

• Check with local DOF for any burning restrictions. Please be aware if your county has a burn ban.

• Never leave fires unattended, even for a moment.

• Take some time to pick up your yard debris and clean your roof so you don’t invite a wildfire to your home.

The long 4th of July holiday weekend is one of those times when extra caution is warranted. Campfires, bonfires and fireworks should be enjoyed carefully. Parents should be aware of and control their children’s activity with outdoor fires and fireworks. Remember – Only you can prevent Wildfires!

For media interviews and photo and video opportunities, contact Brian Goddin—Wildfire Mitigation Specialist/ Public Information Officer: Florida Division of Forestry (Chipola District) at 625-6621. To report a suspicious fire, call 547-7083. For more information about Florida’s Division of Forestry, including recreational opportunities or wildfire information, visit the DOF website at www.fl-dof.com.

Be ‘Fire Safe’ this 4th of July!

CHIPOLA FORESTRY DISTRICT (Bay, Walton, Holmes, Washington, Gulf, Calhoun, and Jackson Counties)– Although fireworks can be fun, they can also result in an unexpected wildfire. The recent rainfall has reduced the drought index. However grasses, pine straw, dead vegetation, and other fine fuels dry out quickly even when woodlands appear to be wet. Because these fuels have a low ignition temperature, fire spreads through them quickly and intensely. Fireworks and sparklers can easily ignite grasses and spread fire to nearby homes or forests. Residents should practice caution when igniting fireworks. Make sure children have adult supervision and that you have a water source available. Fireworks should be lit on a smooth non-flammable surface, well away from any homes, brush or wooded areas.

Please consider practicing these additional wildfire safety tips at your July 4th celebration if you choose to perform one yourself:

• Use legal fireworks only

• Children should not be allowed to light fireworks

• Keep a bucket of water nearby in which to place all used fireworks

• Have a water hose or fire extinguisher nearby to put out stray sparks

• Make sure fireworks are cold before leaving them unattended

• Clear a 10’ level area free of dry vegetation where fireworks will be ignited

• Aim fireworks away from homes and wooded areas

• Remove any debris from roofs where fireworks could land

• Make sure dry vegetation does not touch your house or deck

• Watch for smoke where fireworks land

• Report all wildfires

After you finish:

• Clean up all debris.

• Duds can be dangerous; if a device does not light or fire, an adult should wait at least 15 minutes, approach it carefully, and place it in a bucket of water.

• Be sure all unused fireworks, matches and lighters are out of the sight and reach of children.


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