Dry weather drives up brushfire risk, fire chief says.
A recreational burn ban is in effect for all of Sarasota County, owing to the dry weather conditions and a higher-than-normal risk of wildfires.
According to Sarasota Fire Chief Michael Regnier, the ban will remain in effect until weather conditions change.
"The only exception to the ban is cooking fires used on outdoor grills, Regnier said in a release. “Residents are reminded to never leave a grill unattended while cooking and ensure the grill is in a safe location. Before disposing of coals, it is important to ensure that the coals are completely cooled.’’
Normal rainfall through March in Sarasota is about 9 inches, but 5.36 inches have fallen since Jan. 1.
Sarasota’s drought index is in the 500-599 range on a scale of 0 indicating swamp-like conditions and 800 indicating desert-like conditions. Counties to the north are less fire-prone this season, while conditions are drier to the south, according to the Florida Department of Agriculture.