When most of us think about the threat of home fires and severe fire damage, we tend to imagine scenarios in which we have left the oven on in our house or a neighbor failed to turn off the iron. In other words, we often fear fires caused by human error within the home. But, as many Floridians know perhaps all too well, brush fires can be common occurrences in our state. While these fires sometimes result from negligence, certain weather conditions in Florida can also lead to a dangerous brush fire. Brush fires can occur quickly and without any substantial warning. According to a recent article in the Orlando Sentinel, “this is the time of year when brush fires are more prevalent.” And indeed, the article reports that at least seven brush fires occurred across West and Central Florida in the first weeks of April alone.
What do you need to know about brush fires and ways of preventing them?
Brush Fire Damage and Insurance Claims
If a brush fire causes damage to your home, what should you do? As with any other house fire, it is important to ensure, first and foremost, that everyone in your family is safe. When brush fires take place, firefighters may not allow you to return to your property immediately. For instance, as the Orlando Sentinel article explains, fire rescue officials frequently will monitor areas in which brush fires have recently occurred to ensure that there are no more “hotspots.” Only once the area is deemed safe will you be permitted to reenter.
Once you have access to your home, you should take the steps you would take in any other property insurance claim situation. An article in the San Gabriel Valley Tribune cites the following as important steps for ensuring that your claim will be processed in a timely manner:
● Save your receipts from any mandatory evacuation, since your insurance policy may include living expense coverage;
● Take photos of the damage;
● Promptly inform your insurer of the damage to your home and belongings; and
● Seek estimates for repair.
Causes of Florida Brush Fires and Prevention Tips
When brush fires occur, they often spread across large areas of land. And, according to a spokesperson for the Orange County Fire Rescue cited in the Orlando Sentinel article, the weather conditions in Florida in spring allow these fires to spread quickly. What causes them? In some instances firefighters do not know precisely how a brush fire starts, but they can occur when people are not careful with fire. As the Fire Rescue spokesperson emphasized, “it is important for everyone to remember to be extremely careful outdoors with fire,” given that “the smallest spark can quickly cause a fire that gets out of hand.”
What else can you do to help prevent Florida brush fires? A fact sheet from the University of Hawaii recommends some of the following:
● Do not allow children to play with lighters or matches;
● Only burn trash in a metal container after you have cleared the surrounding area;
● Do not throw cigarette butts out of the window of your car;
● Do not weld in an area that is not clear (only weld in a proper shop building); and
● Keep any vehicles with catalytic converters off of dry grass.
If you have questions about filing a fire damage claim, an experienced Florida fire damage lawyer can assist you. Contact the Valrico Law Group for more information about how we can help.