Lee joins Collier, Hendry in enacting county-wide burn ban; Cape Coral also limits fires
Lee County became the third county within a week in Southwest Florida to enact a burn ban.
The Lee Board of County Commissioners enacted the ban on Friday for unincorporated Lee County and municipalities effective immediately due to increasingly dry conditions throughout Southwest Florida.
Collier County Commissioners enacted a ban March 4 that includes all unincorporated Collier County, but exempts all commercial agricultural burning, lawful controlled industrial or commercial environments that are part of the manufacturing or some type of assembly process, and those burning activities regulated by the Florida Forest Service. and Hendry County
Hendry County issued a burn ban on Tuesday. It prohibits bonfires, campfires, burning of trash or yard waste and any other outdoor fire except for a cookout in a barbecue typically in an enclosed propane or charcoal grill.
Also on Friday Cape Coral issued its own temporary burn ban that prohibits recreational burns (i.e. fire pits, campfires) and City permitted burns (i.e. bonfires and land clearing control burns). This also includes burning vegetative debris. Fires solely for cooking purposes where the fire, flames, and heat generated are fully contained within the confines of the device being used (i.e. grill) are still allowed.
The burn ban will be in effect until the local drought index is below 600 for seven consecutive days.
In addition to following the burn ban restrictions, the Cape Coral Fire Department requests the community be vigilant in not disposing of lit smoking materials outdoors, including from a car window. The Department also requests vehicles, including ATVs, only be operated on paved, gravel, or dirt surfaces and not on grass or other vegetation.
The Lee County ordinance bans “outdoor burning ignition sources,” including campfires, bonfires and trash burning. Grills for food and backyard fire rings are not included. Officials ask all county residents to be mindful of dry conditions and to use good judgment to mitigate potential for significant wildfires.
Extended weather forecasts are for continuing dry conditions, and there is an elevated risk of wildfires from fallen trees in undeveloped lands due to Hurricane Ian.
The Florida Forest Service offers residents information and tips at:
- Be Wildfire Ready: www.fdacs.gov/Forest-Wildfire/Wildland-Fire/Fire-Prevention/Be-Wildfire-Ready
- Ready, Set, Go! Resources: www.fdacs.gov/Forest-Wildfire/Wildland-Fire/Fire-Safety/Ready-Set-Go!-Resources
For the county to enact a burn ban, certain conditions must be met, including a Keetch-Byram Drought Index (KBDI) that reached or exceeds a value of 600. Lee’s index value today is a mean average of 602 out of 800. The county also coordinates with the Lee County Fire Chiefs’ Association and the Florida Forest Service, both of which support the ban.
This ban does not apply to prescribed burns authorized by the Florida Forest Service, authorized public fireworks displays permitted by Lee County and other government agencies, and fireworks sales authorized by state laws.
The burn ban is accomplished by the Board adopting a State of Local Emergency. Commission Chairman Brian Hamman signed that State of Local Emergency and the burn ban after the Board of County Commissioners voted at its regularly scheduled March 7 meeting to authorize him to do so when conditions were met.
County officials will continue to monitor the drought conditions to determine how long the burn ban will be in place.
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