The best of EcoWatch, right in your inbox. Sign up for our email newsletter!
Hurricane Michael Debris Made Florida Wildfire Harder to Fight
The fire burned around 678 acres over the weekend and forced 20 homes to be evacuated in Bay County, AccuWeather reported. The fire burning near Allanton, Florida was 50 percent contained at only 15 acres Saturday evening when wind caused it to spread to 100 acres within an hour. Winds also pushed it south Sunday, and the Florida Fire Service described it as "stubborn."
"Under normal conditions it would have been a few hours and a few acres," Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried said during an update on the fire reported by The News Service of Florida. "But because of the fact of all the timber on the ground and because the weather conditions, it escalated to be the 600-plus (acres) because of all the fuel on the ground and the inability to get there."
The most recent update from the Chipola division of the Florida Fire Service Monday said that the fire was 75 percent contained at 668 acres. It was also started by a debris burn that got out of control.
Officials are worried that the weekend's fire could be the start to a particularly dangerous fire season for the state. Hurricane Michael downed 72 million tons of trees between the Gulf Coast and the Georgia border, and most of them have yet to be cleared.
"Even a normal fire season in the Panhandle could be catastrophic because of all the fuel," Florida Forest Service Director Jim Karels said Monday, according to the Tampa Bay Times.
However, this year's fire season, which peaks in April and May, also comes during a particularly dry year for the state.
"[S]tatewide we have been drier than normal over the past two months," state climatologist and Florida State University Climate Research Center head David Zierden said, according to the Tampa Bay Times.
This could make life even more difficult for Panhandle residents still recovering from Hurricane Michael, which slammed the area in October of 2018.
"Our house was destroyed in Hurricane Michael, and now this," Amy Carter, who was preparing to evacuate due to the fire, told the Panama City News Herald, as the Tampa Bay Times reported.
Hurricane Michael, a category 4 hurricane, was the strongest to ever hit the Panhandle. It intensified rapidly due to warmer than average water temperatures in the Gulf of Mexico, a sequence of events consistent with predictions about how climate change will influence hurricanes.
Fried used the occasion to call for state and federal aid to help with Michael recovery.
"Other parts of our country have seen (federal) disaster packages within weeks after a disaster," Fried said, according to The News Service of Florida. "And now almost six months later we are still waiting. This is absolutely unacceptable."
Fried has requested $39 million from the state to remove debris, plant new trees and buy new firefighting equipment, but the Florida House and Senate are still negotiating a final budget.
- 'It eats everything'—the new breed of wildfire that's impossible to ... ›
- Wildfires, hurricanes and other extreme weather cost the nation 247 ... ›
- Wildfires, Heat Waves, Sea Level Rise to Be Increasingly ... ›
- Hurricane Michael turned millions of trees into kindling. Could ... ›
- Florida Wildfire Could Be Sign Of Things To Come Due To Debris ... ›
EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
By Alina Petre, MS, RD (CA)
Veganism refers to a way of living that attempts to minimize animal exploitation and cruelty. For this reason, vegans aim to exclude all foods containing meat, poultry, fish, eggs, dairy and honey from their diet (1).
'Finally!': Court Orders EPA to Stop Stalling Potential Ban on Pesticide Tied to Brain Damage in Kids
By Jessica Corbett
In a ruling welcomed by public health advocates, a federal court on Friday ordered the Trump administration to stop stalling a potential ban on a pesticide linked to brain damage in children, giving regulators until mid-July to make a final decision.
At EcoWatch, our team knows that changing personal habits and taking actions that contribute to a better planet is an ongoing journey. Earth Day, happening on April 22, is a great reminder for all of us to learn more about the environmental costs of our behaviors like food waste or fast fashion.
To offer readers some inspiration this Earth Day, our team rounded up their top picks for films to watch. So, sit back and take in one of these documentary films this Earth Day. Maybe it will spark a small change you can make in your own life.
By Shuchi Talati
Solar geoengineering describes a set of approaches that would reflect sunlight to cool the planet. The most prevalent of these approaches entails mimicking volcanic eruptions by releasing aerosols (tiny particles) into the upper atmosphere to reduce global temperatures — a method that comes with immense uncertainty and risk. We don't yet know how it will affect regional weather patterns, and in turn its geopolitical consequences. One way we can attempt to understand potential outcomes is through models.
By Julia Conley
Green groups on Saturday celebrated the latest federal ruling aimed at preventing President Donald Trump from rolling back environmental regulations that were put in place by his predecessor.
By Tim Radford
Scientists have identified yet another hazard linked to the thawing permafrost: laughing gas. A series of flights over the North Slope of Alaska has detected unexpected levels of emissions of the greenhouse gas nitrous oxide from the rapidly warming soils.