A massive brush fire in western Broward County scorched 6,800 acres before finally being contained this morning as dry conditions threaten more uncontrolled burns.
The so-called “Holiday” fire threatened multiple structures and caused the evacuation of Mach’s Fish Camp, but no buildings ultimately burned, said Scott Peterich, a wildfire mitigation specialist for the Everglades District, which includes Palm Beach County.
Peterich said South Florida has had 68 wildfires this year, compared to 20 during the same period in 2016.
That’s a 240 percent increase.
“Our current weather pattern of drought, low relative humidity and windy conditions greatly increase the chance of a wildfire occurring,” Peterich said. “Under these conditions, a wildfire will spread very quickly and be much harder to control.”
As of Friday, much of coastal Palm Beach County is down 8.57 inches of rain for the season that began Nov. 2. Martin and St. Lucie counties have an 8.27 inch rain deficit as measured by the South Florida Water Management District.
The average rain deficit in the 16 counties covered by the district is 5.2 inches.
The Keetch-Byram Drought Index, which measures drought on a 0-to-800 scale with 800 being desert-like and 0 being saturated ground, had a mean index for Palm Beach County of 571, but parts were as high as 658.
Anything above 600 is associated with more severe drought and an increase in intense wildfires.
National Weather Service forecasters said only spotty showers are expected this week with no more than a 20 percent chance through Thursday.