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Brush fires more likely as Tampa Bay drys out

TAMPA — The Tampa Bay area is drying out, and that means ideal conditions for wildfires.

So far this year Hillsborough County has had two wildfires, Pasco County seven and Polk County 10, according to the Florida Forest Service.

Though most of the area got rain Thursday night, low humidity and little rain this season are setting up an incendiary situation.

Brush becomes perfect kindling when humidity is below 35 percent, winds are high and rainfall is minimal, said Paul Close, National Weather Service meteorologist.

Tampa hasn't seen much of that danger zone, but an alert was issued for Pinellas County on Tuesday, he said.

In January, Tampa got 0.63 inches of rain and St. Petersburg got 0.77 inches, significantly lower than the typical rainfall of about 2 inches. Close said Tampa Bay isn't expected to get more than drizzles the rest of the week.

"With all this dry weather we've had, it's always a threat," he said.

The Florida Forest Service was wrapping up a brush fire in Pasco County along State Road 52 on Thursday. Spokesman Donald Ruths said people should be aware of burning laws, which can be found at www.floridaforestservice.com.

"Things could be so dry that people could make mistakes when they are burning their trash or their yard waste," he said.

Contact Meredith Rutland at mrutland@tampabay.com or (727) 893-8804.

Brush fires more likely as Tampa Bay drys out 02/07/13 [Last modified: Thursday, February 7, 2013 11:11pm]
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