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Commissioner Adam Putnam asks Floridians to help combat arson

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — Florida Commissioner of Agriculture Adam H. Putnam and the Florida Forest Service announced today that there have been more than 240 separate arson wildfires in 2017 and are asking the public to help by reporting suspicious wildfire activity. Arson wildfires in Florida have increased nearly 70 percent compared to this time last year.

“Wildland arsonists place lives, property and natural resources at risk, and we will not tolerate anyone who purposefully endangers Floridians and our first responders,” said Commissioner Putnam. “With the help of Floridians and visitors, we can better protect Florida's communities and natural landscapes by stopping arsonists in their tracks.”

Residents and visitors should call 911, as well as the department's 1-800-342-5869 arson hotline to report suspected arson or suspicious activities. Individuals who provide information that leads to the arrest and conviction of a wildland arsonist are eligible to receive an award up to $5,000. Arson is a felony crime, and anyone convicted of arson can be fined up to $5,000 and face up to five years in prison.

“More than 100 wildfires are burning across the state and forecasts predict heightened wildfire danger for the next few months,” said Jim Karels, Florida State Forester. “Citizens and visitors who report suspicious wildfire activity are an invaluable resource as we work together to stop arsonists and keep wildfires at bay.”

When reporting suspected wildland arson activity, callers should remember the following:

  • After calling 911, call 1-800-342-5869;
  • Do not approach the suspect;
  • Identify vehicle descriptions and license plates;
  • Identify physical descriptions of suspects; and
  • Identify the location where the suspicious behavior was observed.

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 on more than 26 million acres. Learn more at FloridaForestService.com.