UPDATED (6/13): Seminole County lifted the burn ban on June 13 due to rainfall lowering the drought index. 

ORIGINAL STORY: Osceola and Seminole counties have put burn bans in place because of dry conditions.

In Seminole County, all outdoor burning that has not been permitted by the Florida Forest Service — including bonfires, campfires and yard debris — is prohibited throughout the county. Above-ground charcoal, gas, barrel-style barbecue smokers and electric grills are permitted, but officials urge you to ensure the charcoal is extinguished after you finish cooking your food.

It's necessary to take these precautions because if a wildfire happens, it can impact everyone, officials say.

“In Seminole County, our rural and urban interfaces are very close. So those wildfires can move into neighborhoods and threaten structures very easily,” Alan Harris, emergency manager for Seminole County Office of Emergency Management said.

Burn ban violators can be fined up to $500 or jailed for no more than 60 days.

“There can be fines and things like that especially if a wildfire does make it to a structure, burns a person’s house down or even worse if there’s injuries or death related to that, of course, other charges can occur,” Harris said.

In Osceola, a ban on open fire pits, campfires, and yard debris is in effect within the unincorporated areas.

In both counties, burn bans are activated when the Keetch-Byram Drought Index, or KBDI, reaches or exceeds 500 and no measurable rainfall is forecast soon.

Osceola County Fire Rescue will continue to monitor conditions to determine when the burn ban will be lifted there. In Seminole, the burn ban remains in effect until the drought index dips below 500 for seven consecutive days or until further notice. 

The Seminole County Fire Department said it has already responded to multiple wildfires this year, and officials said residents should take the following actions to protect their homes and businesses.

  • Create a 30-foot area of “defensible” — clean and green — space around your home or business.
  • Clear trash and dead vegetation from your front and backyard.
  • Remove leaves and debris from roof and gutters.
  • Have an Emergency Plan and an emergency kit packed in case an evacuation is ordered, especially if your home is near wildlands.
  • Monitor Seminole County’s social media and local media for updates on road closures, smoke conditions and other hazards.
  • Use extreme caution when grilling, camping and discarding cigarettes.
  • Call 911 if you see smoke or fire in your area.
  • Register with Alert Seminole to ensure you receive emergency alerts regarding significant events.