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Drought could fuel wildfires, officials warn

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By Mark Scohier, Staff writer

It's not just the rivers, lakes and springs that are affected by the recent drought in Levy County. The lack of rain is also expected to exacerbate the spread of wildfire this season.
Ludie Bond, wildfire mitigations specialist with the Florida Forest Service, said wildfire is always an issue in the state, though January typically marks the beginning of a more active season.
"We want citizens to use caution," she said. "It's so dry and so windy right now that a fire could get away from someone very quickly."
According to FFS, Levy County's current drought index rating is at 556, the fifth highest in the state. The rating, which ranges from 0 to 800 (0 meaning plenty of moisture), is based on the amount of moisture in the soil. The rating for the county isn't as high as it was last year at this time, but Bond said there's still cause for concern, adding that anything over 540 is considered severe.
The drought is so bad, according to the Suwannee River Water Management District, water levels in area lakes, rivers and wells are breaking records for all-time lows.


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