Ecological and economic consequences of the 1998 Florida wildfires
Document Type: Conference Proceedings
Author(s): Susan L. Grace; Dale D. Wade
Editor(s): John S. Kush
Publication Year: 2001

Cataloging Information

  • fire danger rating
  • fire management
  • fire models
  • Florida
  • forest management
  • fungi
  • insects
  • pine forests
  • plant diseases
  • SFP - Southern Fire Portal
  • wildfires
Record Maintained By:
Record Last Modified: June 1, 2018
FRAMES Record Number: 2376
Tall Timbers Record Number: 31100
TTRS Location Status: In-file
TTRS Call Number: Fire File
TTRS Abstract Status: Okay, Fair use, Reproduced by permission

This bibliographic record was either created or modified by the Tall Timbers Research Station and Land Conservancy and is provided without charge to promote research and education in Fire Ecology. The E.V. Komarek Fire Ecology Database is the intellectual property of the Tall Timbers Research Station and Land Conservancy.


Over 2,000 wildfires burned 500,000 acres of Florida real estate, most of it between May and mid July 1998. Although virtually every county was impacted, the fires were concentrated in the northeast quadrant defined by boundaries extending north from Orlando to the Georgia line and east from Orlando to the Atlantic Ocean. The fires occurred during record-breaking drought, consumed vast amounts of accumulated fuel in normally wet depressions that rarely burn in prescribed fires or during more typical wildfire conditions, and crowned through pine plantations and subdivisions forcing the evacuation of an entire county. Such extreme fire behavior is unusual but not unprecedented in Florida. Property damage, economic ramifications such as airport closures and tourism losses, natural resource damage, and suppression costs were estimated at between $620 and $890 million, ranking this as one of Florida's worst disasters. Air quality impacts such as respiratory problems requiring medical treatment were not addressed. The Joint Fire Science Board saw these fires as an opportunity to scientifically test some of the hypotheses raised in the wake of this catastrophe that resulted from the combination of two extreme events ? record-breaking drought and an unusually high number of dry lightning storms. The research team assembled was comprised of people from: US Forest Service, Southern Research Station; US Geologic Survey, Biological Research Division; Florida Division of Forestry, Fire Control and Forest Management Bureaus; Florida Natural Areas Inventory; St. Johns River Water Management District; Auburn University; Dynamac Corporation; GP The Timber Company and; The Nature Conservancy. Study sites included a national forest, national wildlife refuge,several state forests, wildlife management areas, a state reserve, a water management district, and industrial woodlands.

Online Link(s):
Link to this document (261 KB; pdf)
Grace, Susan L.; Wade, Dale D. 2001. Ecological and economic consequences of the 1998 Florida wildfires. Proceedings of the 3rd Longleaf Alliance Regional Conference. Forests for our Future - Restoration and Management of Longleaf Pine Ccosystems: Silvicultural, Ecological, Social, Political, and Economic Challenges. 5. Oct 16, 2000. p. 70-74.