HAINES CITY, Fla. (WTSP) -- The Haines City Fire Department has noticed a drastic increase in bonfire calls since Polk County enacted a burn ban. The department has had more backyard bonfires and trash fires in the last two weeks than in the past six months, according to a post on its Facebook page.
"Not only is the burn ban not deterring citizens from burning, it seems to have interested citizens to burn more," the post continues.
Haines City Fire Marshal Tim Mossgrove didn't write the post, but he clarified it Tuesday.
"There is a burn ban in place," he said. "People are more aware, and they're reporting them."
He said the department responded to 53 outside fire calls in the last six months, and 24 in the past two weeks.
On Monday alone, the department responded to four outside fires. At least one of them is considered suspicious. Firefighters found a lit candle in the ground surrounded by long, dry brush.
The department is asking residents to be extra vigilant and report suspicious activity. They are also encouraging them to abide by the burn ban.
The penalty for violating the ban is a fine up to $500, up to 60 days in jail or both.