Prescribed burns and you

A prescribed burn on lands that are part of the CREW management area.

It’s prescribed burning season, and this week kicks off a series of posts on the topic. 


We’re entering a drier-than-normal season, and you, the residents that live on lands that border on the CREW (Corkscrew Regional Ecosystem Watershed) Management area, have likely seen a column of smoke during the day.

It’s not a wildfire; it’s a prescribed burn.

Prescribed fire is an important land management tool in Florida, an attempt to replicate the beneficial effects of natural fires under optimal weather condition and with trained personnel.

Dead leaves, palm fronds, needles, tree limbs and more accumulate on the ground and, as they dry, are a fuel source, just waiting to ignite from a natural source like lightning or a human-related cause such as a lit cigarette. That would create wildfire, which will burn hot and out of control.

A prescribed burn is managed by certified, trained professionals with a permit from the Florida Forest Service. Those permits are only issued when weather conditions are conducive to burning and issued the day of the burn once weather conditions are more predictable.

FWC biologist Kathleen Smith participates in a prescribed burn on CREW Management lands.

The prescribed burn benefits the land by removing dead vegetation and benefits wildlife by creating natural openings and stimulating fruit and seed production as food sources.

But how, exactly, does a prescribed burn affect you?

As a homeowner, a prescribed burn decreases the chances of a wildfire occurring near your home. Wildfires can cause damage to homes and personal property and, on occasion, loss of life. The benefits of prescribed burning far outweigh the temporary effects of the burn such as residual smoke and ash.

Most smoke and ash should be reduced within about 24 hours. Residents with medical conditions, such as respiratory issues, should take appropriate precautions by staying inside until the fire is extinguished. For residents concerned about ash from the prescribed burns, preventative measures can be taken, such as covering pools, bringing patio furniture inside and pulling vehicles into garages.

For more information on prescribed burns, visit and If you would like more information on being a fire-wise homeowner and community, visit

This article was prepared for newsletters in communities that border the CREW Management area. If you would like to use this article in a community newsletter or request a presentation for your community on prescribed burns, contact Anne Reed ( 

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