Florida officials: Arson wildfires are on the rise statewide

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) — Florida officials say the number of arson wildfires has increased nearly 70 percent compared to last year.

Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam said Friday there have been more than 240 separate arson wildfires so far this year. Anyone convicted of arson, a felony, faces fines up to $5,000 and up to five years in prison.

In Florida’s Panhandle, a St. George Island man was charged with reckless burning causing a wildfire last week that burned nearly 70 acres and caused the evacuation of 55 homes.

Authorities told The News Herald (http://bit.ly/2ohM5W5 ) the man would be responsible for the state’s firefighting costs. He also faces 60 days in prison and a $500 fine if convicted of the second-degree misdemeanor. No structures were damaged and no injuries were reported.

Florida college lifts frat suspension after nearly 2 months

WINTER PARK, Fla. (AP) — A central Florida college has lifted the suspension of its six fraternities after nearly two months.

Rollins College announced the reinstatement Friday.

The school suspended the fraternities indefinitely on Feb. 21 and canceled all Greek Week activities scheduled for March. The school cited “high risk behaviors.”

Attorney Mark O’Mara told the Orlando Sentinel (https://goo.gl/tXXAqu ) the suspension came two days after his client, a fraternity member, was attacked by three members of another fraternity. O’Mara wouldn’t name the fraternities but said the groups had been clashing for several weeks.

O’Mara said the attackers have been suspended, and their attorneys agreed the three would not return to the college until after O’Mara’s client graduates in December.

No criminal charges were filed. Rollins didn’t mention the alleged attack in a statement released Friday.