Low humidity and high winds can lead to a higher fire risk, according to Sevier County Fire Chief David Puckett. He said fire behavior is dictated by weather patterns and field moisture.
“Fires are going to burn at a more intense rate, easier to ignite, when the conditions are drier, especially when you couple it in with any kind of a wind activity,” he said.
Burns permits are required for any debris burn in the state of Tennessee from Oct. 15 through May 15. During that time, conditions are monitored daily to watch for a fire risk.
“If you look at our grass or any grass in the area, if it crunches when you walk on it because it’s dry or it’s brittle, or if the leaves are crisp when you’re walking in them, then that should clue you in that the conditions are very dry,” Puckett said.
While debris burns require a permit, campfires in a closed ring are still allowed. Puckett said never leaving a fire unattended and ensuring it’s out when you’re done can help prevent a disaster.
“Disposing of the ashes is another big thing, on those cooking fires and things of that nature, making sure they’re going into a still bucket and that you’re wetting them down with a water hose and making sure they’re fully extinguished before leaving,” he explained.
Even if you’re not having a fire, there are still ways to prevent one.
“It is everybody’s responsibility to manage the leaf litter around their home. All those leaves and things will transfer fire closer to the home and could actually cause the home to become ignited itself,” Puckett said.
He also warned against storing firewood, lawn furniture and propane tanks under a porch or close to home. Another common cause of a fire is improperly disposed cigarette butts.