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Now browsing: Hometown News > Community > St. Lucie County

Wildfire safety during the holidays
Rating: 2.57 / 5 (7 votes)  
Posted: 2013 Nov 29 - 06:58

For Hometown News

TREASURE COAST -- The Florida Forest Service wants to remind everyone to enjoy the winter holidays with safety in mind. Holiday wildfire safety begins the first day as your family searches for the perfect Christmas tree and Holiday wildfire safety ends with the carefully planned disposal of the tree at the end of the holiday season.

Christmas tree fires are more likely to cause a house fire; a wildfire can result from the flames.

Calin Ionita, Senior Forester with the Florida Forest Service wants to provide families with a few tips on protecting yourself, your home and your property. One of the first things you can do to prevent Christmas tree fires is to pick the right tree.

When choosing a Christmas tree, it is important to buy a fresh tree. Cut an inch off the bottom or ask the vendor to do it for you. This new cut will allow water to be taken up. Put your tree in water as soon as you get home and be sure to top-up daily. A fresh tree will drink about a pint a day for the first couple of days.

However, do not think the danger ends just because the holidays are over and the tree is down.

"Get to know the burn laws in your area before your strike that match. It is unsafe and illegal to burn wrapping paper and gift boxes. Consider recycling instead of burning your Christmas trees in order to reduce the chances of sparking a wildfire," said Melissa Yunas, Wildfire Mitigation Specialist Florida Forest Service.

Christmas trees may be ground up for mulch or used to help stabilize sand dunes, build structure for fish in a lake or pond or provide shelter for birds and other wildlife. Contact your local Solid Waste Authority for recycling information.

If you decide to burn your Christmas tree, here are a few outdoor burning tips:

- Never leave a fire unattended, and make sure it is out before you leave

- Keep a shovel and water hose handy

- Don't burn on windy days or when the humidity is below 35 percent

- Your fire must be contained to an 8- foot diameter pile or non-combustible barrel and must be at least 25- feet from forests, 25- feet from your house, 50- feet from a paved public road and 150- feet from other occupied buildings

- If your fire escapes, you may be held liable for suppression costs and damage to the property of others.

- Burning yard waste does not require an authorization from the Florida Forest Service, but you should check with your local city, county or Florida Forest Service officials to see if there are any restrictions in your area

For more information about picking out the perfect tree, call (863) 655-6409 Calin.Ionita@FreshFromFlorida.com.

For additional fire prevention tips, burning rules and regulations contact your local Florida Forest Service office. In Stuart, call (772) 221-4045. For Port St. Lucie, call (772) 468-3915. For Vero Beach, call (772) 778-5085.

For more information, visit www.floridaforestservice.com

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