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Fire Safety

| FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE | Contact: Melissa Yunas | October 10, 2016 | (772) 260-0053 Twitter: @FFS_Okeechobee ( | Burning Yard Debris After Hurricane Matthew If Your Fire Escapes, You May Be Held Liable Hurricane Matthew’s wind caused wide spread destruction of vegetation in our area. While lighting a burn pile will reduce all those leaves, uprooted trees and other yard waste to a little heap of ashes in just a few hours, taking the proper safety precautions is imperative for protecting yourself and your property. With the right preparation, careful location and proper dousing, you can burn effectively without letting the fire get away. In some urbanized cities, open burning is prohibited; check with your local Florida Forest Service ( before you burn. The Florida Forest Service can also provide you with specific spacing requirements and burning hours for your area before you strike that match. In general, locate the fire 150 feet away from your neighbor's house and at least 25 feet away from your house, any fences on the property, garden sheds, and the garage. If your property backs up to a grassland or woodland area, light the fire at least 25 feet inside your property line. “Keep your yard waste fire no more than 8 feet in diameter and create a fire break -- a bare dirt area the same height and circumference as the fire -- around the burn area,” explains Melissa Yunas, Wildfire Mitigation Specialist with the Florida Forest Service. Yunas stresses, “Add to the fire as it burns down rather than creating one massive pile. Before you light, get a hose ready and keep a shovel and metal rake on hand. A shovel allows you to smother sparks and fire with dirt in an emergency while the rake allows you to quickly return logs or branches that roll off the fire.” Burn only yard waste from your own property, such as leaves, small branches, grass, and other yard clippings. It is illegal to burn household garbage such as plastic, bleached paper, pharmaceuticals, tires, used oil, and any treated wood. It is also illegal to burn construction garbage such as asbestos containing materials, roofing materials and asphalt. Fires need your constant attention so plan to burn on a day when you can be there the whole time. Limit burning yard waste to windless days, or as near windless as possible. If the wind is blowing more than 10 miles per hour, hold off. Don't leave, even for a minute without getting someone to watch it for you. When you're done burning, douse the fire with water and spread out the coals. Keep dousing and spreading the coals until the entire area feels cold to the touch. If your yard waste fire escapes, you may be held liable for costs of suppression and damages that occur. Call your local Florida Forest Service for more information. The Florida Forest Service, a division of the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, manages more than 1 million acres of state forests, provides management assistance on more than 17 million acres of private and community forests, while protecting homes, forestland and natural resources from the devastating effects of wildfire on more than 26 million acres. Learn more at ( . For questions about burn authorizations and wildfire prevention, please contact your local Florida Forest Service: Martin County (772) 221-4045; Saint Lucie County (772) 468-3915; Indian River County (772) 778-5085; Glades County (863) 674-4000; Highlands County (863) 655-6407; Okeechobee County (863) 467-3220

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