NEW PORT RICHEY – Bonfires and burning yard debris are forbidden for the time being in Pasco County.
Commissioners imposed a burn ban Tuesday, citing extreme drought conditions. If the ban remains in effect through July 4, it would also prohibit residents from igniting fireworks, although commercial fireworks displays are still allowed with a county permit.
"This is not the time to be playing around like that," said Pasco County fire chief Anthony Lopinto. He said yard waste and recreational fires sparked most of the major fires burning across the state, primarily along the northeast coast.
According to a map from the state Division of Forestry, there are 440 active wildfires in Florida, including 53 that cover more than 100 acres. Two forest rangers died Monday trying to fight the Blue Ribbon fire in Hamilton County along the Georgia border.
Violators of Pasco's ban would face a misdemeanor charge and a $500 fine or 60 days in jail. Lopinto said the ban would be lifted when consistent summer rains reduce Pasco's drought conditions and fire risk.