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Polk officials institute burn ban to prevent another River Ranch-type wildfire

Posted at 6:20 PM, Apr 03, 2017

About a month and a half after the devastating wildfire that torched more than five thousand acres in the River Ranch community of Polk County, officials are now issuing a burn ban county wide until conditions improve.

RELATED: Homes destroyed, properties damaged about 5,000-acre brush fire

The last time the county issued a burn ban was in 2014.

Anyone caught burning illegally could face a $500 fine or even six months in jail.

“It’s never been this dry before since I’ve been out here,” said Larry Deno, who has lived in the River Ranch neighborhood since the 1970’s.

Everything is driven up around his property — the ponds, leaves, and pine needles.

The fire that destroyed 12 homes and hundreds of hunting cabins six weeks ago also took a major toll on the people who live there.

“My neighbor Richard had a heart attack, then he had a stroke and he’s in rehab right now,” he said.

The time around, the conditions may be even worse than before.

“There’s really no relief in sight,” said Chief Rick Parnell with Polk County Fire Rescue.

Low humidity mixed with high winds create the perfect recipe for fire to overrun crews and equipment, much like it did in River Ranch.

The burn ban could be in place for a couple weeks to a month.