Florida declares state of emergency because of wildfires

Firefighters deal with a wildfire that quickly spread across acres of land in Florida on March 22, 2017.
Firefighters deal with a wildfire that quickly spread across acres of land in Florida on March 22, 2017. PHOTO: REUTERS

MIAMI (AFP) - The governor of Florida declared a state of emergency on Tuesday (April 11) as more than 100 wildfires burned large swathes of land in the southeastern US state.

The measure by Rick Scott frees up more resources to fight the fires and distribute supplies to people affected by them.

"Today, I am declaring a state of emergency in Florida to ensure we are ready to respond to and prepare for these fires," Scott said.

The Florida Forest Service said 105 fires are now burning in the state, with 23 of them burning more than 40ha.

The blazes have torched more than 8,000ha of land. Since January, fires have blackened around 28,000ha in the southeastern state.

Weather forecasters predict the next few months will be hotter and drier than usual in Florida, so more forest fires are expected.

"This may only get worse as we enter the hotter summer months and it is crucial that we take every action right now to be prepared," Scott said.

In the first three months of the year, wildfires have burned 2.5 times as much land as in the same period of last year.

"We haven't seen this active of a season since 2011," said Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam.

"We're seeing that every area of our state is susceptible to wildfire," he added.