Friday, June 01, 2007

Fires Burn At Lake Okeechobee

MOORE HAVEN, FL. -- On May 28, fire broke out in Buckhead Marsh just west of Pearce Canal at Buckhead Ridge. The fire initially moved in a slow decent to the south toward Indian Prairie, but quickly gained speed and strength. Multiple agencies participated in a coordinated response to control the fire: South Florida Water Management District, Department of Forestry, Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, and Glades County, Lakeport and Buckhead Fire Departments.

A backfire was set in Indian Prairie to intercept and halt incoming flames from the initial outbreak . A backfire is a fire started to stop an advancing fire by creating a burned area in its path.Strong winds, however, allowed the fire to push through the backburn and spread into the marsh at Harney Pond at Lakeport. To date, approximately 9000-12,000 acres of marsh and upland habitat have burned. The source of the fire is unknown but is suspected to have been an intentional act.

The greatest danger posed by fire is the potential for it to �jump� the rim canal and tow ditch and damage private property. Conservation experts say fire can be beneficial in releasing nutrients from burned plants, helping to stimulate growth in unproductive habitats. Fire also burns away thick, old growth vegetation and creates space for new plants to thrive.

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