Forest rangers fight flames & offer simple tips for home protection

Posted at 7:21 AM, Apr 11, 2017

Crews kept a close eye on two wildfires burning in Pasco County Monday night. They call the fires the Silver Palms Fire and the Campground Fire. As of 7:00 a.m. Tuesday, the Florida Forest Service (Withlacoochee) said the Campground fire is 75 acres and 75% contained.

RELATED: Voluntary evacuations prompted by brush fires lifted in Pasco County

People living in the Suncoast Lake subdivision were under voluntary evacuations Monday afternoon, but fortunately, those evacuations were lifted later in the evening. While residents have firefighters to thank, there is also another group fighting the flames that most people will not see.



Forest rangers are the people right on top of these fires creating breaks or lines to stop the flames. Essentially what they do is get in tractor units and plow a line around the fire. The strategy is that when the fire reaches the line, it will run out of fuel and go out. Rangers have to figure out the height of the flames to determine how wide to make the line.

Derek Bowers is a forest ranger with the Florida Forest Service who has fought several fires. He explained what it is like to be so close to the flames.

"Most of the time we don't feel that extreme heat of the fire but as you do get close to the fire plowing that suppression line. I think the biggest thing is dehydration," said Bowers.

Rangers also take brush trucks which have tools like hoses and water, to help if fires get out of control.

Florida Forestry Officials want to stress the importance of preparing your home even if it is not close to a wildfire. They explained that in the right condition, an ember can travel up to one mile.

Patrick Mahoney is a wildfire mitigation specialist with the Florida Forest Service and said people need to clean out their gutters and roof. Pine needles, pine cones, and dry debris that build up in the gutters are extremely flammable. He explained that clean gutters mean if an ember flew, it would land on metal, so there is nothing to which it can attach. Mahoney also suggested to plant a lot of green, plants around homes.



"We had a home in the Charlotte fire but because they took the time to ... and had clean and green around their home, their home survived. If they didn't, it would have been gone," said Mahoney.

Mahoney said if people have a wooden fence around their yard that connects to their house, to put a piece of plastic or slab of concrete between the two, so there will be something to hopefully stop the flames if the fence were to catch on fire.

Pasco County officials tell us they will give the media an update on both fires at 9 A.M.