INSURANCE INFORMATION INSTITUTE
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TAMPA, FL, March 3, 2011 — Wildfires on Florida’s East Coast have already burned more than 20,000 acres. Due to Florida’s unusually dry winter and several cold spells that left freeze-dried plants to serve as kindling, the wildfire risk for the entire state is heightened, and is being compounded by the continuing dry spell. Heavy smoke from fires now burning in Volusia and Brevard counties serve as reminders that Florida has a wildfire threat, which is likely to last until the rains of hurricane season bring relief.
Florida ranked sixth in the U.S. for the number of wildfires in 2009 (latest data available) and fourth for the number of acres burned. Wildfires burned 124,401 acres in 2009, considerably fewer than the 578,346 acres burned in 2007. Cold ocean temperatures enhance fire activity, according to the Florida Division of Forestry
, which says there is a connection between cold oceans and drier winters in Florida. Research has shown a correlation between acreage burned in Florida wildfires and sea surface temperature anomalies in regions of the tropical Pacific Ocean. These La Niña conditions contribute to wildfire activity, says the Division of Forestry.
“Most people associate California with wildfires, not Florida, but the risk here exists and it’s not to be taken lightly,” said Lynne McChristian, Florida representative for the Insurance Information Institute
. “Anyone living near a wooded area should have an evacuation plan that is rehearsed by the entire family.”
Damage caused by fire and smoke are covered under standard homeowners, renters and business insurance policies and under the comprehensive portion of an auto insurance policy. There is also generally coverage for water or other damage incurred by fire fighters in the course of extinguishing a fire.
TOP TEN STATES FOR WILDFIRES RANKED BY NUMBER OF FIRES, 2011
Source: National Interagency Coordination Center.
View Archived Tables
For wildfire protection tips, visit the Institute for Business & Home Safety (IBHS) website at www.disastersafety.org
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