Today, Florida Commissioner of Agriculture Wilton Simpson and the Florida Forest Service are highlighting the dangers of wildfire arson during Arson Awareness Week, May 7-13, 2023.
“Under the current weather conditions, even the smallest spark has the potential to start a dangerous wildfire,” said Commissioner Simpson. “With the help of Floridians, we hope to stop arsonists and protect lives, property, and our natural resources.”
Drought conditions have put the state at high risk of wildfire danger. So far this year, there have been 1,275 wildfires burning 35,713 acres in Florida. Arson on wooded lands costs Florida taxpayers millions of dollars each year and is a felony, punishable by a fine of up to $5,000, five years in prison, or both.
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“Arson is a top cause of wildfire and a serious crime,” said Rick Dolan, Director of the Florida Forest Service. “With the state under high wildfire risk, we will not tolerate anyone who purposefully endangers Floridians with woods arson.”
When reporting suspicious arson activity, callers should remember the following:
- After calling 911, call the Arson Alert Hotline at 1-800-342-5869.
- Do not approach the suspect.
- Identify physical descriptions of suspects.
- Identify vehicle descriptions and license plates.
- Identify the location where suspicious behavior was observed.
Callers can remain anonymous and information leading to the arrest of an arsonist could result in a reward of up to $5,000. To learn more, visit FDACS.gov/Arson.
The Florida Forest Service, a division of the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, manages more than 1 million acres of state forests and provides forest management assistance on more than 17 million acres of private and community forests.
The Florida Forest Service is also responsible for protecting homes, forestland, and natural resources from the devastating effects of wildfire.
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