Forestry officials warn of East Tennessee fire dangers

Forestry officials warn of East Tennessee fire dangers

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Firefighters battle a wildfire believed to be caused by arson on Walden's Ridge in Anderson County. Firefighters battle a wildfire believed to be caused by arson on Walden's Ridge in Anderson County.

KNOXVILLE (WATE) - The East Tennessee District of the Department of Agriculture Forestry Division is advising residents to use extreme caution when conducting outdoor burning on Wednesday after a rash of wildfires in the state.

In the 24 counties the East Tennessee division covers, 11 fires have consumed 171.9 acres of land since Oct. 31. Five were caused by debris, four by suspected arson, one by lightning, and one by a burning structure.

The largest and most visible fire was on Walden's Ridge in Anderson County. The fire, which is suspected arson, has burned 71 acres and threatened nine homes.

Fire crews are returning to that and other fires on Wednesday, continuing to mop up and patrol fire lines.

The National Weather Service in Morristown is expecting high winds in East Tennessee after 4 p.m. Wednesday, with sustained gusts up to 25 miles per hour.

Those needing to do outdoor burning are urged to use caution and make sure safety precautions are in place.

Precautions include having assistance on hand to help with burning, having tools and water to maintain the fire, watching the weather, burning away from dry grass or forested areas, and obtaining a burn permit from the Division of Forestry.

Burn permits are required by law, but are free of charge. You can call the local Division of Forestry office from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday, or go online to get permits for controlled burns less than 8 square feet in size.

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