Florida Commissioner of Agriculture Adam H. Putnam and the Florida Forest Service, a division of the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, urge the public to exercise extreme caution when burning hurricane debris and yard waste in the wake of Hurricane Michael. Large amounts of flammable building debris and millions of acres of dead trees and shrubs throughout the Florida Panhandle create ideal conditions for wildfires.
Before burning hurricane debris and yard waste, Floridians should check with local city and county officials or visit FloridaForestService.com to see if there are any burn restrictions in the area. Yard waste is any vegetative debris, such as grass clippings, brush, leaves, tree limbs and palm fronds that are a result of yard maintenance. It is critical to avoid burning green vegetation at this time to avoid smoke hazards.
“Residents can help protect not only their family and communities from the risk of wildfire, but our wildland firefighters and first responders by using caution and following burning laws that are in place for their safety,” said Jim Karels, State Forester and Director of the Florida Forest Service.
Floridians must meet the following requirements to conduct debris and yard waste burns without authorization:
- Comply with required setbacks for outdoor burning and ensure there are no local city or county ordinances that prohibit burning;
- Limit burns to yard waste generated on your property that will fit in an 8-foot diameter pile or non-combustible container; and
- Ignite fires after 8 a.m. CST or 9 a.m. EST and extinguish fires one hour before sunset.
Setbacks for outdoor burning require hurricane debris and yard waste to be:
- 25 feet from your house;
- 25 feet from any wildlands, brush or combustible structure;
- 150 feet from other occupied buildings; and
- 50 feet from paved public roads.
Piles greater than 8 feet in diameter will require an authorization from the Florida Forest Service, suppression equipment on-hand and additional setback requirements. At this time, burn authorizations for piles larger than 8 feet will not be issued for the following counties: Bay, Calhoun, Gulf, Holmes, Jackson, Walton and Washington. For more information on burning outdoors in Florida, visit FloridaForestService.com or contact your local Florida Forest Service field office.
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.