Due to dry weather, the Florida Division of Forestry placed the Panhandle as a category four on the fire danger scale. The scale is measured from one to five, with five being the driest.
Four of the seven counties in northwest Florida have enforced burn bans trying to prevent wildfires.
With no measurable rainfall in more than a month and daily temperatures hovering the century mark, Florida Forestry Officials describe it as dry as the Mojave desert.
The majority of counties in the Panhandle forestry district now have enacted burn bans. It's against the law to do outdoor burning; outdoor grilling with charcoal is exempt from the ban.
Ronald Taylor, Holmes County Supervisor for the Florida Forestry Division, said, "Twenty eight years that I’ve been with the forestry division this is the driest since '98 that I remember. You must be cautious because of the dry conditions that could set a forest fire."
Eight forest fires mainly in Bay and Gulf Counties have been contained and are being monitored. The swampy terrain makes it difficult to get too many of them.
“These are the names of the fires and locations and these are contained as of now, but we don't say they are out,” said Duty Marci Glover of the Florida Forestry Division.
At level four indicating extremely dry conditions, there are two firefighter attack crews that are on call 24 hours a day.
“Always want to know if there are any structures that might be around. Human life is a first priority even in a woods fire," said Ranger Shane McGowan.
Motorists who smoke are being urged not to throw out their cigarettes butts; a small spark could trigger a major forest fire under the dry conditions.
Currently Bay, Walton, Holmes, and Jackson Counties have issued burn bans in the panhandle district. Washington, Gulf and Liberty Counties may enact the bans within coming days.
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