ALACHUA COUNTY — After reviewing Alachua County’s current wildland fire conditions and the area weather forecast, Chief Will Gray May, Jr., Director of Emergency Services, instituted by County proclamation a mandatory countywide burn ban, effective at 5:00 p.m. May 8, 2006, until formally terminated by a majority of the Alachua County Board of County Commissioners.
Conditions in our area are unusually dry, and the County’s present drought rating on the Keech Byram Drought Index is 542. To put this in perspective, Brevard County, which is currently battling a 1,000 acre brush fire is also rated at 542 on the KBDI. Additionally, recent weather forecasts predict only minimal rainfall in the coming week; it will take a significant rainfall event to lower our local wildfire conditions considerably.
The mandatory burn ban affects all of Alachua County, including rural and municipal areas. The Florida Division of Forestry will also be withholding burn permits on a case-by-case basis, as issued under their jurisdiction within the County.
The countywide mandatory burn ban prohibits all of the following:
- All outdoor burning that has not been specifically permitted by the Florida Division of Forestry is prohibited.
- The sales and use of any fireworks, sparklers, flares, or other pyrotechnic devices except as provided by law for public displays requiring a permit is prohibited.
* Please note that the ban does not affect agricultural burning permitted by the Florida Division of Forestry for land clearing or prescribed burning purposes.
Although the use of LPG/LNG grills and charcoal grills is permitted, the public is encouraged to keep a constant watch for any stray sparks or embers while cooking outdoors. Additionally, due to the potential for accidental ignitions, the use of motorized equipment such as ATVs and dirt bikes is not suggested during times of high wildfire risk. Please bear in mind that lawnmowers, both push and riding, also pose accidental ignition risks. Citizens are asked to exercise extreme caution during the burn ban. Working together, Alachua County’s citizens and local fire suppression agencies may avoid a repeat of the 1998 wildfires which scorched 7,100 acres locally.
Any burning within the County will be in violation of Alachua County ordinance 86-1, sections 10.08 and 10.09 and section 252.50 of Florida Statutes. It will be considered a second-degree misdemeanor, punishable by up to a 60-day imprisonment and up to a $500.00 fine. All County and municipal law enforcement agencies are authorized to enforce the ordinance.
For more information, please contact Alachua County Fire Rescue Public Information Officer Megan Crandall at (352)494-8600.