KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — Multiple fires in the Cherokee National Forest are being investigated as arson as drought and dry conditions elevate fire danger.
The U.S. Forest Service said the Buck Bald Fire, a cluster of fires near Famer, could be arson. Firefighters are working to contain the spread. Crews are using roads and terrain features to block the spread with help from water drops from aircraft.
- Hogum Hollo: 44 acres, North Zone, 2 miles SW of Roan Mountain
- Bullet: 103 acres, South Zone, 5 miles SE of Etowah
- Buck Bald: 350 acres, South Zone, 2 miles north of Famer
“We have crews marking trail closures and reroutes, but this is a dynamic situation with frequent access interruptions to roads and trails,” said Stephanie Bland, deputy forest supervisor. “We ask the public to please avoid these areas and let our firefighters and our partners do their work to control the spread of these fires.”
Another fire being investigated as human-caused in the national forest is the Tweed fire burning in Cocke County. The 60-acre wildfire is 5 percent contained.
“We’re seeing a rapid increase in wildfires across the forest placing people, homes and infrastructure at great risk,” said Bland. “Human-caused fires take valuable resources away from the protection of people and structures making dry conditions much more dangerous for everyone.”
There are structures at risk as these fires spread to private property. The Forest Service is working with the property owners to protect their structures.
“We’re investigating multiple fires as arson and our message to the public is if you see something, say something,” said Bland.
The US Forest Service is restricting backcountry fires to designated fire rings, grills, or gas stoves to reduce the potential for more wildfires.
EDITOR’S NOTE: This story has been updated with additional information.