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Brush fire in Manatee destroys half an acre

MANATEE — A brush fire Sunday afternoon charred a half-acre of woods near a residential neighborhood south of Bradenton, but no structures were threatened.

The fire began sometime before 2:30 p.m. in the woods behind a home in the 5400 block of 21st Street West.

Cedar Hammock Fire Department Batallion Chief Mike Dechelbor said the fire was started accidentally by a 12-year-old boy playing with a lighter.

No one was injured.

The Florida Divison of Forestry was not called to respond to the blaze, so for the year the number of wildfires in the Myakka River District remained at 113.

The district includes Manatee, Sarasota, Charlotte, DeSoto and Hardee counties.

There have been no wildfires getting the district’s attention since a quarter inch of rain fell Friday morning at Sarasota-Bradenton International Airport.

Without rain Saturday or Sunday, however, the Myakka River District’s drought index for Manatee County has begun creeping up. Manatee has been in an extreme wildfire situation for months.

The Keetch-Byram drought index in Manatee County read 606 on Sunday, an increase of four points from the day before. The index is a measure of moisture in soils and plants, on a scale from zero to 800. Higher values indicate drier conditions. Scores greater than 400 show a significant risk of fire, with 600 and higher showing an extreme risk.