Hundreds of acres burning in East TN, officials expect arson

Hundreds of acres burning in East TN, officials expect arson

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By STEPHANIE BEECKEN
6 News Reporter

KNOXVILLE (WATE) - 12 wildfires have sparked up in two days burning hundreds of acres in East Tennessee. More than 200 acres in Scott and Anderson counties burned Friday. They are also watching nine other fires that started on Thanksgiving.

In the 21 years Phillip McRary has been living on Babelay Road in East Knox County he's never seen anything like this.

"We saw the smoke hanging low in the valley here, then we saw the glow of the fire across the ridge," said McRary.

On Thanksgiving day, a wildfire was just on top of the ridge near his home. 150 acres were burned.

"Apprehensive not knowing will we come back from our evening with family and our house will be gone or what will we come back to that evening," said McRary.

Forestry official Nathan Waters says the fire is contained, but the Tennessee Division of Forestry is still on the scene to make sure the fire doesn't re ignite.

"We go around the fire put a dozer line of dirt that six to eight feet wide if possible and what we'll do is start a back fire on the inside and let it burn into the coming fire," said Waters.

The hot spots continue to send up smoke in East Knox County. Firefighters spent all Thursday night getting the fire under control, but it's not the only blaze they had to battle.

"Just yesterday we had nine fires that burned about 650 acres across five or six counties. Seven of the fires were arson, this one is expected debris and we had one that was children playing with matches," said Waters.

Waters says because of the fire conditions in East Tennessee, no burn permits will be issued through the weekend. Phillip McRary hopes people follow the rules and don't burn in these dry conditions.

"It could cost lives. It could cost property. It could cause many number of things," said McRary.

No homes or structures have burned in these wildfires. If you have information about suspected arson activity, call the Fire Marshal's Arson Hotline toll-free at 1-800-762-3017. Calls are kept confidential.

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