Polk County issues burn ban in wake of brush fires, dry weather

- All you have to do is look at your lawn or pretty much any field: It's dry out there. Dangerously dry.

So Polk County has imposed a burn ban.  That means you can't have a campfire, bonfire, or burn your yard trash. No fireworks eithers.

"Our message is take it seriously," said Assistant Chief Rick Parnell of Polk Fire Rescue. "We want to decrease any property damage that anybody has and injuries to folks."

The ban includes all unincorporated Polk and the following municipalities: Auburndale, Bartow, Davenport, Eagle Lake, Fort Meade, Haines City, Hillcrest Heights, Lake Alfred, Lake Hamilton, Mulberry, Polk City, Lakeland and Dundee.

And Polk is not unique. Wildfires are beginning to pop up all over the state.

"We're having high winds and low humidity," said Victor Memmoli, a spokesman for Florida Forest Service. "We're having the highest occurrence of fire activity we have had in years. Every day we're responding to fire calls."

Several thousand people in East Polk County are especially concerned. They just went through a terrifying ordeal. Wildfire burned 5,000 acres in River Ranch and Indian Lake Estates. It destroyed a dozen homes, most of them uninsured. It also damaged countless sheds, outbuildings and structures.

Fire investigators have not determined a cause yet.

All Larry Deno has to do to be reminded of the severity of the situation is walk out behind his house. His pond is three foot lower than usual.

"It has never been this dry before, and I have been here since '76," he told FOX 13.

Fire officials say it would have to rain hard for several days for them to even consider lifting the ban.

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