TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WTXL) — Fire officials at the Apalachicola National Forest are implementing a Fire Restriction Emergency Closure Order that will ban all fires or campfires on the entire forest due to high drought index and lack of rain.
Officials say this order is effective starting April 2 to July 31, due to the unseasonably high drought index and lack of rain the forest will experience.
The purpose of the Fire Restriction Emergency Closure Order is to protect the health and safety of the public and natural resources.
The order prohibits building, maintaining, attending or using a fire or campfire on any and all compartments, lands and waters on the forest.
Using the Keetch-Byram Drought Index (KBDI), forest officials determined the fire danger on the Apalachicola National Forest is high with the potential for extreme fire danger as minimal precipitation is forecasted for the foreseeable future.
“We are at a critical stage as we transition from spring to summer and the forest gets hotter and dryer,” said Kelly Russell, Forest Supervisor for the National Forests in Florida. “The public can help us prevent wildfires by not building any type of fires, including campfires, during these dry conditions.”
Officials are remindind visitors to the forest that they are not to park vehicles in dry, grassy areas as residual heat from exhaust systems can ignite the dry grass.
In addition, spark arrestors are required on all recreational vehicles. Fireworks and other pyrotechnic devices are prohibited.
Pursuant to the provisions of Title 36 C.F.R, Section 261.50 (e), any federal, state, or local officer or member of any organized rescue or firefighting force in the official performance of their duties are exempt from the above prohibition.
A full copy of the the Apalachicola National Forest Fire Restriction Emergency Closure Order is available online.
For more information contact the Wakulla Ranger Station at (850) 926-3561 or the Apalachicola Ranger Station at (850) 643-2282.