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NWS issues red flag warning for most of Tampa Bay area

Outdoor burning is highly discouraged.

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — While we'll all be enjoying a break from the humidity Tuesday, the picture-perfect weather means there's a high chance for fires to burn out of control. 

The National Weather Service issued a red flag warning for most of the Tampa Bay area, including Pinellas, Polk, Hardee, Highlands, DeSoto, Hillsborough, Manatee,and Sarasota counties. It runs from Tuesday afternoon through the evening hours.

The combination of wind gusts, sunny skies, low humidity, and no rain chances not only means more pleasant conditions for us outside but also causes concern for forecasters. 

That's because the dry air, stiff winds and more parched vegetation across the area are prime conditions for wildfires to spread rapidly. 

What does this mean for you? Hold off on outdoor burning as fires could spread rapidly.

Last week, Sarasota County issued a countywide recreational burn ban because of the dry conditions and increased chance of wildfires. That means no one should burn approved fuel for pleasure, religious or ceremonial reasons, the county said. 

But backyard barbecues and outdoor cooking, in general, are still allowed. 

Here are some fire safety tips from the National Weather Service to keep in mind: 

  • If you are allowed to burn in your area, all burn barrels must be covered with a weighted metal cover, with holes no larger than 3/4 of an inch.
  • Do not throw cigarettes or matches out of a moving vehicle. They may ignite dry grass on the side of the road and become a wildfire.
  • Extinguish all outdoor fires properly. Drown fires with plenty of water and stir to make sure everything is cold to the touch. Dunk charcoal in water until cold. Do not throw live charcoal on the ground and leave it.
  • Never leave a fire unattended. Sparks or embers can blow into leaves or grass, ignite a fire, and quickly spread.

RELATED: Sarasota County issues recreational burn ban because of dry conditions

RELATED: Most of Tampa Bay region under fire weather watch Tuesday

RELATED: It's not just 'another' wildfire: Our changing climate is making them worse

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