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Manatee wildfire threat up, but no fires

MANATEE — Firefighters of the Florida Division of Forestry in Manatee County reported no wildfires Wednesday in the Myakka River District of Manatee, Sarasota, Charlotte, DeSoto and Hardee counties — a continued lingering effect from a heavy rain nine days ago.

From Jan. 1 through Wednesday night, there have been 126 wildfires reported in the district that burned 6,953.5 acres.

Sarasota-Bradenton International Airport received no rain Wednesday, according to National Weather Service forecasters in Ruskin. So far this month, 1.45 inches of rain has fallen at the airport, in contrast to the normal 1.43 inches.

Most of that rain this month fell on April 14.

For the year so far, the area has received about half the normal rainfall, 4.95 inches versus the average of 10.39 inches.

The Keetch-Byram drought index in Manatee County read 497 Wednesday, an increase of six points from Tuesday. 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.