KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — A wildfire in Roane County has burned more than 250 acres and had sent debris onto I-40 West Thursday according to the Tennessee Department of Transporation. Tennessee Division of Forestry crews are fighting the wildland fire in the mountainous terrain. As of Friday morning, the fire was 90% contained.
Assistant District Forester Nathan Waters with the East Tennessee District Fire Ops told WATE 6 On Your Side at 2 p.m. Thursday that they’ve got “a good line around the fire” as crews continue to fight the blaze.
As of 6:15 p.m. Thursday the Tennessee Wildland Fire webpage is showing that the Rockwood Mountain fire is 90% contained and has burned up to 250 acres of land in that area.
An update from TDOT just after noon Thursday indicated that lanes that had been closed on I-40 near the wildfire and debris had been reopened. Also just around noon, the Division of Forestry reported the fire was 25% contained.
“TDOT crews will be in the area to pick up signage. Traffic will still be backing for a bit longer,” TDOT spokesman Mark Nagi tweeted.
Two sets of wildfires have been reported in East Tennessee, according to the Tennessee Department of Agriculture Division of Forestry. Details on the fires are still developing as crews respond.
The fire in Roane County has grown to 200 acres as of 9 a.m. Thursday. A Forestry Division data map states it’s located in Rockwood, Tenn. off of I-40 near mile marker 345. It’s reportedly burning near the top of Rockwood Mountain.
The fire is located in mountainous terrain, and poses no current threat to structures according to Waters.
“Steep, rocky conditions on Rockwood Mountain make fighting fire difficult and can limit equipment use, and crews continue to monitor Interstate 40, which is near this fire, for both public and firefighter safety concerns,” Waters said in an email. “Wildland fire crews will stay on this fire until it is contained and out.”
The Tennessee Department of Transportation reported a brush fire near the wildland fire site; a westbound right lane was blocked at mile marker 345 on I-40W. TDOT spokesman Mark Nagi tweeted just before 9 a.m. that debris had fallen in the roadway and for drivers to use caution in the area of the wildfire. At noon, Nagi said traffic was backed up between 2-3 miles near the exit.
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According to the Division of Forestry, wildland fires occur year-round especially during periods of drought. There are essentially two fire seasons here: Fall fire season and Spring fire season. The website also states that during a crisis, Division of Forestry employees work closely with volunteer firefighters and rescue squads.
Last week, the Division of Forestry restricted outdoor debris burning due to the dry conditions.
EDITORS NOTE: This story has been updated with additional information along with updated photos.