With the extremely dry conditions and record temperatures in the 100s, the Key Peninsula is vulnerable to fire. Though there is currently a burn ban in effect, and Fire District 16 Chief Chuck West said he expects that to continue until October, there are many ways that fires can start.
A brush fire in the 7800 block on the Key Pen was caused by a catalytic converter, West said. The car backed off the road into the brush, igniting the dry brush.
“So far we’ve had a lot of little fires and we’re catching them early,” West said. “Historically the Key Peninsula has had some very big fires and we want to avoid that situation.” These dry hot days cause concern, he said.
“We’re in that cycle when things are very dry, moreso than anytime in my career here,” he said.
There are indications that the KP was victim to some pretty large fires 60 years or so ago, and West is afraid we are headed for that again.
“It is very volatile, and we want to emphasize extreme caution with anything that could ignite a fire, including barbeques and leftover fireworks,” West said.
Early response is vital, but the Key Peninsula is a unique area.
“One of the issues we have is that we have so much open space that fires go unreported for a while, and that is where our fires get big.” he said. “So if you see smoke, report it early. There should not be smoke in this season.”
The State Fire Marshall’s office also has some tips for fire prevention during this peak fire season. Preparation could make the difference in saving your property.
- Maintain at least 30 feet of space surrounding your home and any outbuildings that is lean, clean and green.
- Know where your gas, electric and water main shut-off controls are and how to turn them off.
- Have a fire extinguisher and know how to use it.
- Have a water hose with an adjustable nozzle that can be placed around the house, and sprinklers that can be placed on the roof and near above ground fuel tanks.
- Have fire tools, such as a rake, axe, chainsaw, bucket and shovel.
- Know who to call to report a fire. Dial 9-1-1 and be prepared to give your name and phone number, your address, the location and direction of the fire, if you know how it started and how big it is, and the color of the smoke.
For more information, visit the Office of the State Fire Marshal website at www.firewise.org