Florida Governor Declares State of Emergency Due to Wildfires

(CN) — Florida Gov. Rick Scott declared a state of emergency Tuesday in response to the 107 wildfires that are currently burning about 24,000 acres around the state.

Scott said the declaration said weather forecasts for Florida predict even warmer and drier conditions than the state is currently experiencing.

Wildfires have already burned 250 percent more Florida acreage during the first three months of 2017 than during the same time period last year.

Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam said this is the most active wildfire season since 2011.

State health officials have warned that wildfire smoke affects people with chronic lung and heart problems and asthma, and doctors are advising people with these conditions should limit their outdoor activities if wildfires are burning nearby.

A Florida Fire Service map shows that fires have been tormenting those who live between Orlando and the Space Coast — forcing the closure of two major east-west routes between central Florida and the east coast — and that wildfires have now also broken out in a swath of the state extending from the Ocala National Forest, not far from Tampa, down to Lake Okeechobee.

Gov. Scott said his order is intended to speed government assistance to several hard-hit areas, including Polk, Collier, Marion, Nassau, Broward, Hernando and Glades counties.

The biggest single wildfire in the state is located in Southwest Florida’s Big Cypress National Preserve, near Naples.

That wildfire now covers more than 8,000 acres and extends to Interstate-75, near the northern reaches of the everglades.

April and May are traditionally Florida’s driest months. Officials said while some of the fires were sparked by lightning, the vast majority were caused by human carelessness and violations of mandatory burn bans.

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