Brush fires flaring up across dry Florida

- The sounds of sirens are a daily routine at the Myakka River District in Manatee County. 

"Lately it's been real busy. We've been stretched real thin," said Derek Doig, the duty officer supervisor.

The district covers five counties: Manatee, Sarasota, Hardee, Charlotte and Desoto.   Calls have come in from everyone.

"This is basically what we call our war board. We play chess here," pointed out Doig.

They plot their next moves with red dots.  Each represents a wildfire that has Florida Forestry's attention.

"It'll stay there till the fire is 100-percent contained," said Doig.

Forest rangers are one of the main lines of defense against fires. They go in to observe, make a plan, and tackle the blaze.

"A lot of people become complacent, especially with Florida being as wet as it is most of the year," said Forest Ranger Derek Bowers.

This year alone, the Myakka River district has already seen 67 fires with nearly 2,500 acres burned. That's the most acres burned in the last five years.

"This is showing us that the fires that we are getting right now this year are growing rapidly because of the dry conditions, the humidity being low and the wind," said Patrick Mahoney.

Mahoney, the wildfire mitigation specialist for the Myakka River District, said there's been 1,435 fires since January. They've burned more than 30,000 acres.

Prevention starts at home.  Rangers ask residents to clean out gutters.

"An ember can travel up to a mile in the right conditions, and if it lands in that gutter, it can take your house down," warned Mahoney.

Rangers say keep an eye on any little thing that could start something much bigger.

"Anything with any heat -- parking your car in dry grass, anything that uses a spark. Make sure your lawn mower is cleaned off," Mahoney added.

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