This weekend was the annual Fire Fest in Venice, an event meant to educate people about controlled burns and the importance of those types of fires.

This year’s event comes on the heels of the worst wildfire season in nearly a decade, when more than 11,000 acres were burned in southwest Florida alone.

Brett Steffen, a duty officer for the Forest Service, said debris left behind by Irma can serve as fuel for wildfires, and to make matters worse, the fire season has started a month ahead of schedule.

The event itself had speakers and presentations from the state Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, Manatee County Parks and Resources, the Sarasota Fire Department, and Sarasota County Mosquito Management. There was also two small prescribed burns and a helicopter water-drop demonstration.