You have reached your limit of free articles this month.

Enjoy unlimited access to myPalmBeachPost.com

Starting at just 99¢ for 8 weeks.

GREAT REASONS TO SUBSCRIBE TODAY!

  • IN-DEPTH REPORTING
  • INTERACTIVE STORYTELLING
  • NEW TOPICS & COVERAGE
  • ePAPER
X

You have read of premium articles.

Get unlimited access to all of our breaking news, in-depth coverage and bonus content- exclusively for subscribers. Starting at just 99¢ for 8 weeks

X

Welcome to myPalmBeachPost.com

This subscriber-only site gives you exclusive access to breaking news, in-depth coverage, exclusive interactives and bonus content.

You can read free articles of your choice a month that are only available on myPalmBeachPost.com.

About 320 Florida wildfires intentionally set


Wildfires continued to rage in Florida Monday with smoky plumes visible from space and new numbers showing an estimated 320 blazes were intentionally set, including five in Palm Beach County.

Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam released the arson information to promote National Arson Awareness Week, and draw attention to the 2,015 wildfires that have burned on state and federally managed lands in Florida since Jan. 1.

Palm Beach County has had 18 wildfires, five of which were intentionally set. Of 54 Treasure Coast wildfires, eight were intentional, said Scott Peterich, Florida Forest Service Wildfire Mitigation Specialist.

Related: First lightning death of the year also kills horse. 

This past year at this time, Palm Beach County had just three wildfires, none of which were arson related. The Treasure Coast had 17, two of which were started intentionally.

Dry conditions have made Florida more susceptible to wildfires this year compared to 2016 when record rainfall was measured during winter months.

Despite recent showers, Peterich said there is still a fire danger statewide. About half of the counties in the state, including Palm Beach County, are under burn bans, and the Storm Prediction Center has most of the Florida Peninsula at an elevated risk of fire.

Check The Palm Beach Post radar map.

The National Weather Service had areas of Miami-Dade County and southwest Florida under a red-flag fire warning Sunday and Monday because of low humidity levels.

“Until the skies open up and just pour, and pour, and pour, we are vulnerable,” Peterich said. “I know fire activity in the district has slowed, but it started again (Sunday.)”

A 28-acre wildfire in Martin County burned Sunday, but was contained Monday. The Florida Forest Service said the fire started when a spark from a stuck vehicle ignited dry grass.

As of Monday, there were 129 active wildfires in Florida, burning tens of thousands of acres.

One of the largest fires, dubbed the West Mims Fire, is in the Okefenokee Wildlife Refuge on the border of Florida and Georgia.

According to a federal report, it was caused by lightning in early April and has since burned more than 130,000 acres.

During the weekend, the fire burned a tractor that became disabled on a stump, and was making an “aggressive” push to the south ahead of gusty northwest winds.

Download the Palm Beach Post WeatherPlus app here.

The fire is so large, it was clearly seen in images taken by the new GOES-16 weather satellite.

Lightning was the cause of 88 fires this year, up from 48 during the same time period in 2016.

Peterich said lightning-ignited fires could worsen as Florida’s thunderstorm season approaches with the onset of summer.

“If you go three or four days without rain and this kind of low humidity, the dryness comes right back,” Peterich said. Remember, this dryness dates back to October or November.”

While Palm Beach County was nearly drought free in Thursday’s report from the U.S. Drought Monitor, areas north of Lake Okeechobee escalated to severe drought. The Upper Kissimmee basin is down more than 9 inches of rain for the year, according to the South Florida Water Management District.

In the 16-county region managed by the district, the average seasonal rain deficit is 6.23 inches.

To report suspicious wildfire activity, contact the department’s Arson Alert Hotline at (800) 342-5869. Callers can remain anonymous and could earn up to a $5,000 reward.

If you haven’t yet, join Kim on FacebookInstagram and Twitter.



Reader Comments ...


Next Up in Weather

BREAKING: ‘Feels-like’ temperature hits 103 in Boca Raton
BREAKING: ‘Feels-like’ temperature hits 103 in Boca Raton

Meteorologists are warning residents to stay hydrated and wear loose-fitted clothing through at least Monday as the heat index topped 100 in parts of Palm Beach County on Saturday. “It’s going to be really hot all weekend long,” said Andrew Hagen, a meteorologist at the National Weather Service in Miami. STORM 2017: Check out The...
Protected shark washes up on beach dead with hook in mouth
Protected shark washes up on beach dead with hook in mouth

A more-than-400-pound tiger shark washed up dead this month north of the Juno Beach Pier with a large hook in its jaw and no outward signs of injury. The sight of the impressive fish lolling in the surf break with curious dogs sniffing at its corpse reignited a debate on fishing for shark from the beach, and what happens when the toothy torpedoes...
Memorial Day weekend forecast: Barbecue or bust?
Memorial Day weekend forecast: Barbecue or bust?

South Florida’s Memorial Day weekend will be soaked in sunshine, but with the clear skies also comes heat. Temperatures today through Monday will reach highs near 90 degrees with balmy dew points in the mid- to upper 70s. That means the heat index, or “feels like” temperatures, will close in on 100. Overnight lows should only dip...
JUST IN: Pre-order the new heat-activated solar eclipse stamp
JUST IN: Pre-order the new heat-activated solar eclipse stamp

The Total Solar Eclipse Forever stamp is the first from the USPS to use thermochromic ink, which is sensitive to heat.
Watch: Animals on Florida trail cameras do the funniest things
Watch: Animals on Florida trail cameras do the funniest things

What do animals do when no one is looking? The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission found out when they placed some trail cameras in the wild.
More Stories