Brush Fire Danger Looms over Lehigh Acres
Special to the Lehigh Acres Gazette
The thought of another active brush fire season looms over Lehigh Acres because of Hurricane Trma.
A concern is growing over brush fires because of what Irma left behind. The Florida Forest Service is urging residents to clear lawns of debris and dead brush to tamp down the risk — one that could be elevated this winter.
We’re expecting drier and warmer weather (than normal), so that can be an issue with hurricane debris down, said in an email from the Florida Forestry Service.
Florida’s year-round risk of wildfire is a problem that cannot be handled with one simple program. We have established several program areas addressing the wildfire issues in the state. The first is our Fire Prevention Program. Smokey Bear remains an active part of our overall prevention message, but our work goes beyond Smokey.
The Firewise Communities Program educates homeowners and community professionals about creating defensible space around their homes, helping to protect them from the dangers of wildfire. We also have developed several interactive programs on CD-ROM to help teach everyone from fourth-graders to adults the benefits of fire prevention.
Prescribed Fire is a cost-effective tool to reduce fuel buildups, which can cause dangerous wildfire conditions. The use of prescribed fire provides increased protection to people, their homes, and the forest.
The peak time for brush fires doesn’t start until February, but preparation can begin now.
The biggest thing is making sure we have 30 feet of defendable space that’s around your home. That’s really important (so) we can get our fire trucks, we can get water crews in there to protect your home.
The National Fire Protection Association provides these tips for homeowners:
Clear leaves and other debris from gutters, eaves, porches, and decks.
Remove dead vegetation and other items from under your deck or porch, and within 10 feet of the house.
Screen or box-in areas below patios and decks with wire mesh to prevent debris and combustible materials from accumulating.
Remove flammable materials, like wood or propane tanks, within 30 feet of your home’s foundation and outbuildings, including garages and sheds. If it can catch fire, don’t let it touch your house, deck or porch.
Prune trees so the lowest branches are 6 to 10 feet from the ground.
Keep your lawn hydrated and maintained. If it’s brown, cut it down. Dry grass and shrubs are fuel for a wildfire.
Don’t let debris and lawn cuttings linger. Dispose of these items quickly to reduce fuel for the fire.
Inspect shingles or roof tiles. Replace or repair those that are loose or missing to prevent ember penetration.
Cover exterior attic vents with metal wire mesh no larger than an eighth of an inch to prevent sparks from entering the home.
Enclose under-eave and soffit vents or screens with metal mesh to embers from getting inside.