Sevierville, Gatlinburg leaders issue open burn ban; Sevier County on ‘High Alert’

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SEVIERVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) – A temporary open burn ban has been issued for the cities of Sevierville and Gatlinburg.

Matt Henderson, chief of the Sevierville Fire Department, said the city issued the ban due to drought-like conditions.

“Looking at the long-range forecast we have a very small percentage of rain forecasted so we wanted to be proactive and go ahead and put some of these protective measures in place,” Henderson said.

The dry weather and low humidity has created a condition to where open burning is too hazardous.

Under the temporary ban, people are not allowed to burn anything unless cooking food in a fire pit or grill.

Henderson said there are several visual indicators he looks for to determine if a ban is necessary.

Some of those include dry grass that might be browning or fresh water sources receding.

“There’s two ponds that I drive by every day and I just notice them. I know where those levels were in 2016 and I know where they are today,” Henderson said.

He said the current conditions were very similar to the dry conditions leading up to the wildfires in 2016.

Henderson said that smokers need to pay extra attention to where they discard their cigarettes during a burn ban.

“Our roads go through ridges and mountains and valleys and just one discarded cigarette can start a large wildfire,” Henderson warned.

While the cities of Sevierville and Gatlinburg are under a temporary burn ban, Sevier County is not.

Sevier County Fire Administrator David Puckett said the county is on high alert for open burning, but burning is not temporarily banned.

Henderson said that the county must go through state officials to issue a temporary burn ban, while city leaders can decide if a ban is necessary themselves.

City leaders of both Gatlinburg and Sevierville said the temporary burn ban will be lifted once dry conditions improve.

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