Officials warn: Clear your property of wildfire fuel

- Flames engulfed an empty lot across the street from Junior Devla's North Port home Tuesday. 

"It started smoking and the next thing I knew I saw embers," he said. "I went to fill up a bucket, but it started getting going and going fast."

On Monday afternoon those embers multiplied and the next thing he knew a brush fire was raging.  It's the second brush fire in two days for this area - a reminder that Florida's fire season is here.

Forestry officials are urging homeowners to make sure their lots are cleared of all fire hazards. 

"Both situations it was both a very heavily fueled lot," said Patrick Mahoney. 

Mahoney, a wildfire mitigation specialist with the Florida Forest Service's Myakka District, said it's the little things you don't often think of that can fuel a fire. 

"You've got dead and dying debris that is falling to the ground," he pointed out. 

Mahoney said homeowners should keep an eye out for anything that could serve as a lifeline for a fire. 

"You don't want the hedges far up because the fire will run up there catch the roof on fire and the fire would run up on the house. We call this ladder fuel," he said pointing to vines. "The fire will literally use this as a ladder to take this right up to your house and take your house up that way." 

Mahoney said safeguarding your home is the best thing you can do to make sure you and your neighbors are protected. 

"With the weather conditions like they are, it's a recipe for high fire danger and activity," he said. 

For more information or the latest updates on wildfires, visit the Florida Forestry Service's Facebook page or Twitter profile.

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