Officials warn of wildfire season with dry conditions continuing across Florida

Dry conditions across the state has Florida Forest Service officials raising red flags over this wildfire season, which they said is already off to a hot and early start. 

Florida Commissioner of Agriculture Wilton Simpson and Florida Forest Service leadership were in Dover Thursday morning to discuss the state’s current drought conditions and to urge residents to be wildfire ready.

"From January 1 through April 2 we've had 1,098 fires for 35,424 acres," said Rick Dolan, the director of the Florida Forest Service. "These totals include state, private and federal lands."

A brush fire recently destroyed hundreds of acres in Polk County.

A brush fire recently destroyed hundreds of acres in Polk County. 

While Florida’s typical dry season runs through late May, nearly every Bay Area county is already facing severe drought conditions with little relief in sight. Tampa International Airport is currently measuring rainfall at six inches below normal for this time of year.

READ: Tampa Bay area in ‘severe drought,’ communities issue burn bans

The Florida Forestry Service has its hands full with brush and wildfires popping up and jumping containment lines across the state, especially in central Florida.

Fire crews in the Tampa Bay area have been bust during the dry season. Polk County crews recently battled the "Right Gate" wildfire, which covered more than 650 acres and destroyed 200 outbuildings in the River Ranch camping area. In Highlands County, flames also recently came dangerously close to a residential neighborhood in Sebring. 

"Arson and escaped yard debris burning are the two leading causes of wildfires in Florida," said Agricultural Commissioner Simpson. "The wildfire that does not start is the one that does not have to be fought."

Officials are warning everyone to be mindful about anything that could ignite a blaze.

Crews putting out a brush fire.

Crews putting out a brush fire. 

RELATED: Wildfire destroys 200 outbuildings, burns more than 650 acres in Polk County

"There's no rainfall forecasted in sight so we're just asking these communities, if you don't need to burn, please don't. It only takes one single spark to ignite a wildfire, even just a cigarette," said Florida Forest Service wildfire mitigation specialist Julie Allen. 

Close up of a fire burning.

Close up of a fire burning. 

In Volusia County on Wednesday, brush fires caused by construction work in a forest flared up on Clyde Morris Blvd. in Daytona Beach. Officials say even mowing the lawn could create a problem if a blade hits a rock and causes a spark over dry grass. 

"Lightning season is right around the corner and wildfire activity around the state is expected to increase," Dolan added. 

Several counties have burn bans in place including Highlands and Polk counties. Burn bans mean no campfires, no fireworks, and no burning trash or other debris.