POLK COUNTY, Fla. — The Polk County Fire Rescue issued a burn ban ordinance Friday morning due to a "prolonged lack of rainfall," just days after a massive brush fire burned at least 1,000 acres in River Ranch.
The areas that will be affected by the ordinance will be Auburndale, Eagle Lake, Lake Alfred, Mulberry, Lake Hamilton, Haines City, Hillcrest Heights, Polk City, Winter Haven, Davenport, Dundee, Lakeland, Bartow, Frostproof, Fort Meade and Highland Park.
The burn ban includes:
- Unpermitted controlled burns;
- Burning of yard and household trash;
- Burning of construction debris;
- Burning of organic debris;
- Igniting of fireworks; and
- Noncommercial burning of materials other than for religious or ceremonial purposes, in which case they must be contained in a barbecue grill or barbecue pit, and the total fuel area cannot exceed three feet in diameter and two feet in height.
Authorities say the dry conditions don't show any signs of easing up any time in the near future and there is a risk of brush fires and uncontrolled fires.
“Polk County Fire Rescue has held off as long as we possibly can on issuing this burn ban,” said Polk County Fire Rescue Chief, Hezedean A. Smith, D.M. “The current dry conditions are favorable for the rapid development and spread of brush fires throughout the County. Ensuring the safety of every resident and visitor throughout Polk County and minimizing the likeliness for loss of property countywide are top priorities for Polk County Fire Rescue.”
Polk County authorities say anyone who refuses to comply or violates this burn ban shall be in violation of County Ordinance 08-015 and can be punished by a fine not to exceed $500 or by imprisonment by a term not to exceed 60 days in the county jail or both.