The Florida Forest Service says more than 100 active wildfires are burning across the state right now.
The Tampa Bay Times reports 25 of them are scorching more than 100 acres each.
Since February, wildfires have swept across 68,000 acres of the state. That amount is higher than the average acreage burned over the past five years.
The largest blaze right now is the one known as the Cowbell Fire in the Big Cypress National Preserve, which has spread to more than 8,000 acres about a mile north of Interstate 75.
A Hernando County brush fire apparently sparked by lightning on Saturday had widened to 1,100 acres by Monday.
“Wildfires are burning more than 20,000 acres in Florida right now, and we haven’t seen this active of a season since 2011,” Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam said in a statement. “From St. George Island in the Panhandle to a wildfire just north of one of the world’s most famous tourist attractions in Orlando, we’re seeing that every area of our state is susceptible to wildfire.”
The dry conditions mark sharp contrast to 2016, when the state was drenched by two hurricanes.
Gov. Rick Scott declared a state of emergency in response to the wildfires and the high potential for increased wildfires to continue this year. Forecasts predict hotter and drier conditions than normal in Florida during the coming months.
“Much of Central and South Florida are approaching drought-like conditions and the chances for wildfires are continuing to increase with hotter temperatures and low rainfall. This may only get worse as we enter the hotter summer months and it is crucial that we take every action right now to be prepared,” Scott said in a statement. “It is incredibly important that wildfire response is swift and deliberate and this state of emergency will make it easier for our state, regional and local agencies to quickly work together to protect our families, visitors and communities.”
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