Risk of wildfire up in East Tennessee for Thanksgiving weekend

Risk of wildfire up in East Tennessee for Thanksgiving weekend


KNOXVILLE (WATE) - The state's forestry department is warning East Tennesseans about the potential for wildfires around the Thanksgiving holiday.

The risk of fire is up due to dangerous fire weather in the forecast, including low humidity, lack of rain and anticipated winds ahead of a front.

The Tennessee Department of Agriculture, Forestry Division had crews working six different fire calls in East Tennessee alone on Monday, a spokesperson said in a news release.

The fires were in Hawkins, Scott, Grainger, Hancock, Campbell and Knox Counties, the largest of which was a large wildfire on Short Mountain near Mooresburg, where approximately 2,000 acres had burned as of Tuesday morning.

There were at least two additional fires near the Short Mountain fire in Hawkins and Grainger counties. All three are suspected to be arson.

So far in 2012 for Tennessee, over 950 wildfires have burned over 11,100 acres statewide.

Roughly a third of those fires have been arson caused, a third have been escaped debris fires and a third have been other causes like fireworks, equipment and structure fires.

Forestry officials also recommend other fire prevention tips which include:

  • Taking precautions when using farm and other equipment (bush hogs, balers, lawn mowers, ATVs, etc.) or anything with an exhaust system, including parked cars, that could create a spark near dry vegetation. 
  • Checking first for local burn and firework ordnances. Citizens are encouraged to avoid shooting fireworks in dry areas and attend public fireworks displays instead.
  • Reporting fire activity immediately to your local fire department. 
  • Delaying debris burning until significant precipitation is received.

Even when conditions are safe, notify your fire department and neighbors. Don't burn on windy days, establish a wide control line down to mineral soil, keep fire containment equipment and water on hand, and stay with the fire until it is completely out.

A forestry spokesman said many counties would be restricting burn permits Tuesday and probably through the weekend.

Anyone who needs to do outdoor burning is urged to call their county forestry office and obtain a burn permit.

Outdoor burn permits in Tennessee are required by the Division of Forestry from Oct. 15 through May 15 each year.

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