BRADENTON, Fla. - When forestry officials walk down a wooded path, sure they see beauty, but also danger in the steps that crackle and the dry plants. "[It] literally crunches under hand," says Patrick Mahoney as he grabs some brush.
Mahoney also digs into the soil with his fingers trying to find some damp dirt. "Usually, you can go down just a little bit and find some moisture in the dirt and there's just none there."
All of that adds up to fire danger. "The heat, the lack of rain, the humidity, the winds. There's just the perfect recipe for something to get out," says Mahoney, "and if it does, it could run big."
Right now, much of the state is considered at a high or very high risk of wildfire. They've been popping up everywhere, including one last week near Myakka City that burned 30 acres.
Officials say it doesn't take much to start a fire, so everyone needs to be careful. "Any type of heat source can spark a fire," says Mahoney. "Doesn't matter if it's a weed eater, lawnmower, chainsaw -- just anything."
In Bradenton on Monday, Forest Service mechanics were busy getting heavy equipment ready for the next round. In the dispatch center, the reason is written in black and white -- under the heading "Fire Danger," a marker scrawled the words "Very High."
For more information on wildfires and steps you can take to protect your home, click here and here.