This week is wildfire awareness week. With the recent wildfire in Ocala, officials say it's important to educate people and for us to be aware of the dangers. As GTN's Ashley Alvarez shows us, efforts are taking place to keep our area safer.
While these woods are peaceful now, they weren't that way less than a month ago.
"That morning of the fire, it was the scariest I've been since I've been on this campus." said Florida Sheriff Youth Ranch Youth Camp Director, Patricia Nelson.
Lightning touched down and sparked a fire near the Florida Sheriff Youth Ranch Youth Camp, a camp that helps develop strong, productive young citizens. Although the fire only destroyed around five acres, Nelson says she doesn't want it to happen again.
"It would be devastating. It would be a loss for me because of what it would take away from the children. It would be a loss for me because I would lose what I love the most." said Nelson.
The native palmetto in these forests can easily catch on fire because of the high level of oils the plant contains. That makes this whole entire area dangerous, which is why the Florida Forest Service is out here mowing and chopping down this vegetation.
"So the idea was to go ahead and come in and do a fuel reduction project to reduce those fuel loads, which reduces the risk of the property and these structures from being damaged by wildfire." said local Florida Forest Service spokeswoman Ludie Bond.
Different organizations have come together to form the Levy County Local Mitigation Strategy Group. Bond says the group focuses on goals to reduce wildfires.
"Identify high hazard areas within the county, areas of concern, areas where we know we have high fire occurrence. Then we also look at what the capabilities are for wildfire initial attack and suppression " said Bond.
Bond says make sure you know the law before you strike a match-- and be aware of your surroundings when you see smoke. The Levy County Local Mitigation Strategy Group will hold its quarterly meeting tomorrow morning. The group will review the goals set for Levy County's Community Wildfire Protection Plan.
Reported by Ashley Alvarez