Area sees multiple brush fires

Apr. 03, 2014 @ 11:59 PM

Local firefighters had their hands full with a number of small brush fires Wednesday, and forestry officials say a dry spring has made it easy to accidentally ignite a blaze — even by tossing away a cigarette.

Firefighters from the Division of Forestry joined other local firefighters to contain a fire in Wears Valley that started when property owners were cleaning some of the brush. The cause was undetermined Wednesday afternoon.

Forestry officials had also been to several others in the area, including one on a hiking trail on House Mountain.

In Sevier County, local firefighters responded to a brush fire in the Thomas Crossroads area, and helped a property owner contain a permitted controlled burn off Sims Road when it started to move down a ridge.

District Forester Ted Dailey said it’s too early to say for certain what caused the brush fires, but conditions are dry enough that a cigarette could spark a fire.

“We’re under such dry conditions that a cigarette could be the cause. They normally wouldn’t be,” he said. “This spring has been marked by extremely low humidity, in the teens in many days, and some wind.”

Because of that, he urged people to be even more cautious than normal outside.

Burn permits are restricted right now in the county, meaning people need to call the Division of Forestry at 429-7020 to get permission to burn.

“We want to talk to people to see what they’re burning and where they’re burning,” Dailey explained.

They could set conditions on the planned burns to help keep it safe for the property owners and neighbors, he explained.

“We want them to be careful,” he said. “If we’re not issuing permits, there’s a good reason. Just try again another day.”

jfarrell@themountainpress.com