State forestry officials say East Tenn. is at risk of wildfires

State forestry officials urge caution, says East Tenn. is at high risk of wildfires

A wildfire burned nearly 200 acres in Campbell County over the weekend. A wildfire burned nearly 200 acres in Campbell County over the weekend.

KNOXVILLE (WATE) - The Tennessee Department of Agriculture, Forestry Division is urging caution, saying East Tennessee is at a high risk of forest fires.

High winds and low humidity led to numerous wildfires over the weekend. Since Thursday, March 6, 30 wildfires have burned approximately 959 acres in East Tennessee.

Officials say eight of those were arson and burned 472 acres, 17 were escaped debris and burned 444 acres, while five had other causes, burning 43 acres.

One such fire burned nearly 200 acres in Campbell County.

The National Weather Service expects high winds again on Monday, near seven to 10 miles per hour, with gusts of up to 17 miles per hour. Low humidity is also expected, nearing 30 percent.

Most East Tennessee counties are not issuing burn permits on Monday, so those wishing to do outdoor burning should call their local Division of Forestry office or go to their website. Burning without a permit is punishable by state law. Those burning with a permit are still liable for damages or costs caused by escaped fires.

Officials say 95 percent of all wildfires in Tennessee are caused by humans, and are therefore preventable.

If you see a suspected wildfire, immediately call 911. If you have information about arson, call the Tennessee Arson Hotline at 1-800-762-3017 to give confidential information. A reward of up to $1,500 is possible.

Free burn permits are required by law until May 15.

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