Utility recreational vehicle cause of wildfire

GLADES COUNTY — Glades County Public Safety, Hendry County Public Safety and the Florida Forest Service responded to a wildfire near Highway 74 and Fire Tower Road on April 8. The wildfire ignited in tall grass. A UTV/Side by Side was driving in tall grass and ignited the grass on fire. Winds carried the fire into the Pine and Eucalyptus Plantation.

Embers were floating ¼ mile ahead of the main fire. County brush trucks and a state type-2 helicopter focused on suppressing embers from igniting the nearby pasture on fire. State firefighting bulldozers removed the vegetation, or fuel source, ahead of the fire stopping the forward movement.

Due to the type of vegetation, the wildfire remained 80 percent contained throughout the night. A strike team of firefighting bulldozers arrived from North Florida (Gainesville, Jacksonville, & Lake City) to help suppress wildfires in the Okeechobee District.

Due to gusty winds and volatile fuels the wildfire did make another run for it on April 9 but firefighters were able to stop the forward momentum and contain the wildfire last night, April 9, at 6:23 p.m. The wildfire is 100 percent contained at 465 acres. The wildfire is burning in the interior and firefighters will be out there everyday to patrol, monitor and mop-up any hotspots that threatened to spread the wildfire past the State’s firefighting bulldozers control line.

Containment versus Controlled?

Contained – The status of a wildfire suppression action signifying that a control line has been completed around the fire, and any associated spot fires, which can reasonably be expected to stop the fire’s spread. The percentage goes up corresponding to containment line plowed by FL Forest Service dozer-plow unit. Controlled= Dead Out.

Safety Message:

There are several ways equipment use can potentially ignite the dry grass and weeds. The most common way is when the grass touches the vehicle exhaust system, including the catalytic converter which can reach up to 1,400 degrees. In order to mitigate this risk, try not to drive your vehicle off the road or on country roads when it’s hot and dry because that will increase your chances of a fire starting from a vehicle. If you drive an off-road vehicle, such as an ATV/UTV and airboat, the sparks can fly out through the exhaust system. The key here is to equip the vehicle with spark arresters. For updated Information – Please follow on twitter at FFS_Okeechobee.

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