published: Friday, March 08, 2013
325 acre wildfire flares quickly
By CHRISTOPHER TUFFLEY
VENUS -- A wildfire across from the old post office was called in at about 2 p.m. Tuesday.
Melissa Yunas, wildfire mitigation specialist with the Florida Forest Service, said the fire grew from 50 acres to about 80 acres in an hour and a half, ultimately affecting 325 acres of palmetto and pine. It was contained by 6:30 p.m.
No people were affected by the fire, and although one unoccupied house was threatened, firefighters saved it.
"The challenges," Yunas said, "included the wind and the dryness of the vegetation.
"This is an area that typically holds water, but is dried up. Dry ponds still have squishy bottoms.
"The heavy dozers could not cross the unstable surfaces and firefighters had to work around them."
Thirty-six loads of water, each delivering 360 gallons -- for a total of almost 13,000 gallons of water -- were dropped on the fire.
By the time it was 100 percent contained, five dozers, two engines, one fixed wing aircraft and one Super Huey helicopter were on the scene.
Yunas warns that containment does not mean the fire is controlled or extinguished.
"State Wildland Firefighters began the mop-up on Tuesday night and Wednesday," Yunas said. "That involves using engines to wet down hot spots or burning trees, and making wider control lines."
Concerns for the site persist. "High winds could easily rekindle the fire," Yunas said. "The wind could move hot ash into unburned dry fuel."
The investigation into the origin of the blaze has only begun. Those answers will take more time to find.
In the meantime, the Florida Forest Service wants homeowners and campers to remember that spring is one of the most dangerous times of the year when it comes to the threat of wildfires.
Between the dry winter season, cold temperatures and high winds, natural vegetation is tinder waiting to combust.
This is why homeowners are strongly urged to keep trees and shrubs well irrigated within 30 feet of the house. It is safer to keep the woods and underbrush 30 feet from all buildings.
Maintaining the yard; raking dead leaves; pruning back dead wood; keeping gutters; patios or decks debris free; keeping boats, propane tanks or wood piles away from buildings adds greatly to safety. So does keeping a three- to five-foot space around all buildings fuel free, nothing that can allow fire to reach the building.
The house roof is the most vulnerable spot for firebrands that blow in and collect.
Firefighters advise homeowners to invest in large numbers and letters to clearly mark their address for a quicker response.
Yunas reminds drivers that where there is fire, there is ultimately smoke, whether from a wildfire or prescribed burn. Visibility on roadways is seriously impaired. Slow down and turn on your low beam lights. If the smoke becomes too thick to see properly, put on your hazard lights and pull well off the road.
Finally, nine out of 10 wildfires are started by humans. Please be careful.
Venus VFD (by: John Q - 3/9/2013)
No mention of the Venus VFD...? They must've had their brush truck at the mud bog in Charlotte County...
Small Banner Ads