Florida Commissioner of Agriculture Adam H. Putnam and the Florida Forest Service are asking the public to help prevent wildfires by reporting suspected arson during Arson Awareness Week, May 7-13. Since the beginning of 2017, arsonists have started approximately 320 wildfires in Florida that have burned more than 20,000 acres.
“Severe drought conditions have increased wildfire danger throughout the state, and unfortunately, man-made fires rank among the top causes of wildfires,” said Commissioner Adam H. Putnam, “With the help of Floridians, we can stop arsonists and protect life, property and wildlife in Florida.”
Woods arson devastates thousands of acres in Florida each year. Throughout 2016, nearly 400 wildfires in Florida were started by arson.
“Everyone loses when arsonists strike. This serious crime not only threatens homes, property and valuable natural resources, but also places the lives of Floridians and our first responders at risk,” said James R. Karels, State Forester. “The state will not tolerate anyone who purposefully endangers Floridians or our visitors by engaging in these activities.”
To report suspicious wildfire activity, contact the department’s Arson Alert Hotline at 1-800-342-5869. Callers can remain anonymous and information about wildland arson could result in a reward up to $5,000. When reporting suspected woods arson activity, callers should remember the following tips:
- After calling 911, call 1-800-342-5869;
- Do not approach the suspect;
- Identify vehicle descriptions and license plates;
- Identify physical descriptions of suspects; and
- Identify the location where the suspicious behavior was observed.
The Florida Forest Service, a division of the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, manages more than 1 million acres of state forests and provides forest management assistance on more than 17 million acres of private and community forests. The Florida Forest Service is also responsible for protecting homes, forestland and natural resources from the devastating effects of wildfire on more than 26 million acres. Learn more at FloridaForestService.com.
For more information about the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, visit FreshFromFlorida.com.