Governor Rick Scott today issued Executive Order 17-120 declaring a state of emergency in Florida following the recent wildfires across the state and the high potential for increased wildfires to continue this year. Forecasts predict hotter and drier conditions than normal in Florida during the coming months. Florida wildfires have already burned 250 percent more acreage during the first three months of 2017 than during the same time period last year. There are currently more than 100 active wildfires across more than 20,000 acres in Florida.
Governor Scott said, “As wildfires impact our state, our incredible firefighters and first responders have bravely rushed to aid our communities and worked tirelessly to protect our homes and families. Last month I traveled to Collier County with Commissioner Putnam to see the impacts of one of these wildfires firsthand and we have continued to monitor the growing number of fires across the state. I’ve continued to be in contact with Commissioner Putnam and local officials about the wildfires across the state and today I am declaring a state of emergency in Florida to ensure we are ready to respond to and prepare for these fires.
“Much of Central and South Florida are approaching drought-like conditions and the chances for wildfires are continuing to increase with hotter temperatures and low rainfall. This may only get worse as we enter the hotter summer months and it is crucial that we take every action right now to be prepared. It is incredibly important that wildfire response is swift and deliberate and this state of emergency will make it easier for our state, regional and local agencies to quickly work together to protect our families, visitors and communities.”
Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam said, “Wildfires are burning more than 20,000 acres in Florida right now, and we haven’t seen this active of a season since 2011. From St. George Island in the Panhandle to a wildfire just north of one of the world’s most famous tourist attractions in Orlando, we’re seeing that every area of our state is susceptible to wildfire. I thank Governor Scott for signing this executive order, which will ensure we have every resource available to us to combat these wildfires to protect life, property and wildlife. May God bless our brave firefighters who are working tirelessly to protect us.”