Firefighters warn of dangerous fire conditions, as drought continues

Common habits could ignite a large fire

PANAMA CITY, Fla. - It's been more than two months since Northwest Florida has had any significant rain. The unprecedented dry weather has firefighters on high alert in lieu of dangerous fire conditions.
 
Red flags are in effect for the region, warning people that current weather conditions are a recipe for disaster.
 
Firefighters said common habits that you usually wouldn't think twice about could start a large fire.
 
Panama City crews shut down Harrison Ave. Sunday afternoon to put out a small grass fire likely started by a tossed cigarette butt. In the past six weeks, firefighters have responded to 15 fires like Sunday's in the city alone.
 
"People think it's just a grass fire, but last week we had a grass fire that spread into an out building. The out building then impinged on the house so it's not just a simple grass fire that we're talking about," Lt. Bob Goree, Panama City Fire Department, said.
 
With the current drought, falling temperatures, low humidity, and high winds, Lt. Goree said a tiny spark can start a fire that can spread quickly.
 
"Before you light that bonfire, think about if this got away from me, if one spark started a fire on someone's roof and burned the house down, would it be worth it? Right now, it's just not worth it," he explained.  "If you do, dig a pit, put a screen on it, have a hose, wet the area around you down so any sparks don't ignite which it can."
 
Lt. Goree points out Panama City already has a no burn ordinance. He said you should always check with your county or city for its burning rules.

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