Pasco County wildfire and smoke conditions update

Burn ban remains in effect for Pasco County

Drought conditions and heavy smoke continue to be issues in Pasco County.  The Florida Forest Service reports the Jay B. Starkey Wilderness Park fire (Anclote Branch fire) is 70% contained at 2,275 acres.

Here is the latest information from Pasco County Emergency Management:

  • Residents and commuters in areas surrounding Starkey Park should expect periods of heavy smoke on the roads for 30 to 45 days.  Please use headlights (not hazards) and slow down when driving through smoke. Signs are posted along SR 52, SR 54 and 589 Suncoast Parkway to alert drivers to the latest conditions.
  • All camping in Starkey Park is cancelled through Thursday, May 11, 2017. All bike and hiking trails are also closed in the park, until further notice, due to safety concerns from burned out areas and hotspots.  No open flames are allowed in Pasco County parks until further notice. (Campfires, grills/barbeques, etc.)
  • A burn ban remains in effect for all of Pasco County.  No burning of trash, garbage or yard debris is allowed.  Burn ban information: http://bit.ly/2pWgw8Q.
  • All Pasco County residents are urged to conserve water and follow lawn watering rules.  See full press release on water conservation here: http://bit.ly/2pe9dp3.
  • Residents can donate items to emergency responders at the Salvation Army Community Center at 7745 Ridge Road in Port Richey, Monday through Friday, from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.  Items needed: water/sports drinks, sunblock, lip balm, bug spray, non-perishable, individually-wrapped snacks.

Pasco County Schools will have the latest information regarding school closings, cancellations due to smoke from the fire at their district website www.pascoschools.org and social media sites.

The Florida Department of Health in Pasco County cautions citizens that wildfire smoke is a respiratory irritant that can cause scratchy throat or irritated eyes and nose.  Smoke can also worsen conditions such as asthma and other chronic respiratory or lung conditions.  Dust generated from increased wildfire response activity on dirt roads may also worsen these conditions.

The Florida Department of Health in Pasco County offers these tips to protect your family from smoke:

  • Pay attention to local air quality reports, news coverage or health warnings related to smoke.
  • Use common sense when outside conditions are smoky.  Avoid prolonged outdoor activities.
  • If smoky conditions occur in your area, anyone with existing medical conditions should limit outdoor activities.
  • If smoky conditions occur, stay indoors and run your air conditioner, if you have one.  Keep the fresh air intake closed and the filter clean to prevent bringing additional smoke inside. For best results, run the air conditioning with re-circulated air.
  • Follow your doctor’s advice about taking medications and follow your asthma management plan if you have asthma or other lung diseases.  Call your doctor if symptoms worsen.

For more information on how smoke from fires can affect your health please visit: http://www.dep.state.fl.us/air/air_quality/airdata.htm.