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Spring brings lovely weather for wildfire

Warm, windy and arid conditions marking the season's arrival are ideal for sprouting blazes.

By LOGAN NEILL
Published March 13, 2007


The mild warm days and cool nights that many people eagerly anticipate in Hernando County are, unfortunately, the same conditions that greatly increase the prospect of wildfires.

Case in point was the raging brush fire that swept through 20 acres on Mondon Hill Road east of Brooksville on Sunday.

Investigators believe that the fire was ignited by the hot exhaust system of a car traveling through tall, dry grass.

"It doesn't take much when it's this dry," said Brooksville fire Chief Tim Mossgrove. "People need to be careful this time of year."

Dousing Sunday's brush fire took several hours and dozens of firefighters from several agencies. Mossgrove said that the blaze was a good example of how quickly things can get out of hand when conditions are favorable for a fire to spread.

"When the flames get 30 feet high, the wind just carries it," said Mossgrove. "If we hadn't cut it off where we did, it would have gotten some houses."

Drier than normal conditions have forced the National Weather Service to issue several red flag warnings for Hernando County recently.

A red flag warning can be issued during any risk condition and is a temporary warning four to eight hours in length where a dangerous combination of temperature, relative humidity and wind may exist.

According to National Weather Service meteorologist Dan Noah, don't look for things to improve much soon.

"It's a typical weather pattern for this time of year," Noah said.

"We don't normally get the kind of rainfall in March and April that would totally alleviate it. Plus, when you factor that Hernando County is already in a moderate drought situation, it increases the chances for wildfires."

Mossgrove said that most wildfires are the result of controlled fires being left unattended. He suggests that any outdoor cooking be closely monitored and a garden hose and other extinguishing devices be kept close by.

"A lot of it just involves using common sense," Mossgrove said.