Florida Drought Conditions Match Devastating 1998 Wildfire Season

June 17, 2011

Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam said drought conditions are the same as in 1998 when wildfires devastated Florida.

Putnam told Gov. Rick Scott and Florida Cabinet colleagues Thursday that drought covers 93 percent of the state.

In 1998, Flagler County was entirely evacuated and a July 4th auto race in Daytona Beach was postponed because of wildfires.

Florida forestry director Jim Karels said the threat isn’t as great now due to lessons learned from 1998. That includes a stepped up prescribed burn program to clear underbrush that fuels wildfires. Currently 390 wildfires are burning on 300,000 acres of state and federal lands in Florida.

Putnam said the impending rainy season will make things worse before it helps due to lightning. He said 50,000 lighting strikes were recorded Wednesday night statewide.

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