More than 400 illegal fires set since Pasco burn ban

Violating ban could lead to fines, jail time
Posted at 5:24 PM, May 01, 2017

A Burn ban in Pasco County went into effect April 12. Since then, fire crews have responded to 410 illegal fires.

“We give people the benefit of the doubt. If people tell us we didn’t know about the burn ban, we tell them and then ask them to put the fire out,” said Pasco Fire Rescue Staff Chief Shawn Whited.

In recent weeks, we’ve seen serious brush fires in Hudson and New Port Richey. 

Officials said that one along State Road 54 was arson.

RELATED: Firefighters monitor wildfire on State Road 54 at Gunn Highway in Pasco County

Sunday, a pile of mulch caught fire at PAW Materials in Odessa burning 40 acres. 

Officials said the business might have prevented that by running sprinklers on the mulch.

“If it’s determined that a fire was caused by an individual either carelessly, maliciously. regardless, if it’s not lightning. If we know whom is responsible for that ignition regardless how that will be billed suppression,” said Brian Prill with Florida Forest Service.

With no significant rain coming anytime, the county wants to makes sure everyone knows about the burn ban.

That means no burning yard waste or garbage And no campfires or bon fires.

Deputies will also be on the look out for drivers throwing out cigarette butts.

If don’t follow the rules, there are fines and possible jail time.

“The goal here is for people to not do it. As opposed to roll the dice and take their chances and pay the fine. We are just asking people to be exceptionally cautious at the this time,” said Pasco Sheriff’s Captain Tait Sandborn.

While rain would help the situation, officials said the lighting that comes with those storms might start even more fires before conditions improve.