Governor Declares State Of Emergency In FloridaTop Stories

April 12, 2017 12:43
Governor Declares State Of Emergency In Florida

Firefighters are battling with wildfires in Florida near the Georgia line to Miami-Dade County in the south as the governor declared a state of emergency on Tuesday.

Gov. Rick Scott said that the proclamation will make it easier for the state, regional and local agencies to "quickly work together to protect our families, visitors and communities" as the authorities battle more than 100 wildfires around the state.

Blaze is also affecting the wildlife. On Sunday, the Pembroke Pines Police reported that a 13-foot a python with burns on its skin was caught by a group of teens in the South Florida community near Everglades Wildlife Management Area.

"Due to the brush fires in the Everglades, you may see a rise in wildlife entering residential areas to escape the smoke and flames," police department wrote on the Facebook page. It added photos of the snake, which was being treated at the wildlife park.

The wildfires are burning on a total of more than 23,800 acres (9,600 hectares) of land and also destroyed 19 homes, said the authorities.

Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam said that this is the most active wildfire season since the year 2011, with some of 107 fires all across the state.

A Florida Fire Service map shows that most of the fires have sprung up between Lake Okeechobee to the south and the Ocala National Forest to the north. Scott's executive order is expected to speed the government assistance in hard-hit Polk, Collier, Marion, Nassau, Broward, Hernando and also Glades counties.

Since February, the wildfires have swept across 68,000 acres (25,500 hectares) of the state. The amount is higher than the average acreage burned over the past five years.

The largest blaze right now is the one known as Cowbell Fire in the South Florida's Big Cypress National Preserve, which has spread to more than 8,000 acres (3,200 hectares) just north of the Interstate 75.

The authorities lightning set off a wildfire in the Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge and also the fire has continued to spread, burning through more than 9 square miles (23 square kilometers) of the swamp and forestland near the Georgia-Florida state line.

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Susan Heisey, a supervisory ranger for the south Georgia refuge, said on Tuesday that more firefighters are being added to a team of more than 100 trying to contain the blaze to public land.

Heisey said that the fire began in southern portion of the Okefenokee refuge's vast 407,000 acres (16,400 hectares). She also said it has now spread into the neighboring Osceola National Forest and also John M. Bethea State Forest in Florida.

In the Pasco County, north of Tampa, voluntary evacuations were issued on Monday and an emergency shelter was opened. The evacuation order was rescinded and the shelter closed later on Monday evening, but the officials there are warning residents to be ready in the case evacuations are again recommended.

One fire near Oviedo in the central Florida over this weekend resulted in the evacuations of nearly 40 homes and harrowing moments for firefighters. And also a Hernando County brush fire apparently sparked by lightning on Saturday had widened to 1,100 acres (445 hectares) by Monday.

The dry conditions mark a sharp contrast to the year 2016, when the state was drenched by two hurricanes. Many areas are experiencing drought and the authorities said that is a big factor in why so many wildfires have ignited. April and May are traditionally the Florida's driest months.

Putnam said that about 90 percent of the fires this year have been sparked by humans.

State health officials warn that wildfire smoke affects the people with chronic lung, heart problems and also asthma. Doctors have advised the people with these conditions should limit their outdoor activities if wildfires are burning nearby.

Mrudula Duddempudi.

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