TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — On Thursday, several Florida state officials met in Hillsborough County to discuss the Sunshine State’s current wildfire conditions and urge residents to be wildfire ready.

Florida Commissioner of Agriculture Wilton Simpson spoke at the Florida Forest Service Valrico Forestry Station in Dover and offered these tips for Floridians heading into the wildfire season;

  • Prepare your home regularly by clearing your roofs and gutter of debris,
  • prepare your yard by creating and maintaining defensible space or buffer around your home,
  • and be smart and vigilant if burning yard waste

“On average, Florida treats about 2 million acres a year with prescribed fire,” Simpson said. “This reduces the fuel loads in our forests so when it does happen, it’s much less dangerous to the people, their homes, and the forest.”

“It’s been a busy wildfire year so far from Jan. 1 to April 2,” said Rick Dolan, Director of the Florida Forest Service. “We’ve had 1,098 fires for 35,424 acres. These total include state, private, and federal lands.”

Dolan said central and South Florida are extremely dry.

“The further south you go, the dryer it is,” Dolan said. “Southwest Florida is the driest part of the state — around the Ft. Meyers area.”

With the lightning season around the corner, additional aviation units were stationed throughout the state.

“It’s time to be wildfire-ready Florida, for more information on how to prepare your home and property for a wildfire, please visit www.BeWildfireReadyFL.com,” Dolan added.