Busy wildfire season could be sign of things to come

We're getting rain now, but we could see more fires the next few years.

We've finally had some rain, so we're not really worrying about wildfires anymore. However, Florida Forest Service crews are still recovering from a busy season, and they suspect the next few years could be busy as well.

“It's the busiest we've seen it wildfire-wise since probably 2001,” Victor Memmoli with the Florida Forest Service said of this wildfire season.

Memmoli said more acres burned this season than the past three seasons combined, which is OK for the ecosystem.

“The foliage in Florida is designed to burn, so it will all come back,” he explained.

What's harder to replace are the homes destroyed. Several large fires, especially in Polk County, forced evacuations and burned homes to the ground.

“Considering this is the first year of the La Nina weather pattern, we did expect somewhat of a busy year, and it could very well continue for the next three,” he said.

Memmoli said the weather pattern is similar to 1998’s, which was followed by three dry, active wildfire seasons.

If there's anything good to come from a busy season, Memmoli says it's that the land that burned won't burn again any time soon. That's not so comforting when you think about how much land didn't burn.

“The whole I-4 corridor is relatively untouched at this point and just waiting,” he said.

© 2017 WTSP-TV


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