Florida Forest Service learns lessons from 1998

Florida Forest Service learns lessons from 1998

Firefighters have responded to dozens of similar brush fires the last couple of weeks saving dozens of homes.

To be a good firefighter you have to be a student of history. Twenty years ago fires consumed hundreds of homes.

"We, unfortunately, lost a lot of houses," said Marty Harn with the Florida Forest Service.

In 1998, there were nearly 5,000 fires, hundreds of homes were lost.

Shortly after state leaders made mitigation a priority.

"Fire breaks behind the community," said mitigation specialist Melissa Yunas.

Her job was created after 1998.

Firefighters make prescribed burns and fire breaks a priority in wildfire-prone areas near neighborhoods.

"Minimizing the loss of homes because basically from 1998 all the way to 2001, we lost (a) substantial amount of homes," said Harn.

Education is a factor as well. A majority of fires now are caused by lightning.

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