More than 100 wildfires blazing across the state of Florida prompted Governor Rick Scott to declare a state of emergency on Tuesday. From the Georgia line to Miami-Dade County, firefighters are currently battling fires responsible for destroying 19 homes.
More than with a quarter of the fires are burning more than 100 acres each, according to the Florida Forest Service. Since February, more than 68,000 acres have been scorched across the state.
Drought conditions have already spread throughout the Florida Peninsula.
About 42 percent of the state was in drought as of April 4, said weather.com meteorologist Chris Dolce. Some of the worst drought conditions are in southwest Florida where Naples has a rainfall deficit of more than 8 inches since Nov. 1, Dolce added.
Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam told News 6 that this is the most active wildfire season since 2011, with a 250-percent increase in acreage burned in the first three months of this year since compared to last year.
The fires are beginning to adversely affect local wildlife. The Pembroke Pine Police reported that a 13-foot python, captured by a group of teens, had burns on its skin. The snake was found near the Everglades Wildlife Management Area.
“Much of Central and South Florida are approaching drought-like conditions, and the chances for wildfires are continuing to increase with hotter temperatures and low rainfall. This may only get worse as we enter the hotter summer months and it is crucial that we take every action right now to be prepared,” Scott said. “It is incredibly important that wildfire response is swift and deliberate and this state of emergency will make it easier for our state, regional and local agencies to quickly work together to protect our families, visitors, and communities.”
The largest blaze, the Cowbell Fire, is blazing in South Florida’s Big Cypress National Preserve and has spread to more than 8,000 acres. Fires across the state have sprung up from various igniters from arson to lightning, and but Putnam concluded that about 90 percent had been sparked by humans.