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Florida Forest Service officials warn residents about dry season

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Dry conditions and downed trees left in Hurricane Michael’s wake leading to concerns across the panhandle. Those concerns ringing true as wildfire breaks out in Fountain. 

With extra timber on the ground from Hurricane Michael, Florida Forest Service officials said the chances for wildfires are even greater for the 2019 dry season.

“There’s more people trying to burn their yard waste in their backyard and a lot more debris,” said Mike Mathis, Chipola Forestry Center manager. “Everybody’s getting out because of the nice weather to try to burn and it brings a lot more incidents.”

Just this month, there have been 26 wildfires in the panhandle. 19 of those just since last week. 

Mathis said, the majority have been caused from residents burning in their back yards.

“We’re definitely realizing that people need to get out their to burn all of their trash, need to clean up all of this hurricane debris, we’re just issuing extreme caution when doing so,” said Mathis.

Because of all of the extra timber on the ground, Mathis said the process of fighting the fires is more difficult.

“It requires heavier equipment to get through the woods,” said Mathis. “It’s a lot slower, it’s going to require helicopter response at times and there’s a lot of timber on the ground that’s going to burn if we keep having these instances.”

Officials said there are no burn bans in place, but residents should use extreme caution when burning debris.

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