A blaze with no glory

Conditions making fires easier to spread, so take extra precautions
Nov. 26, 2012 @ 12:10 AM

These dry conditions we are under make fires a greater risk. Fire danger is expected to be high for a while, at least until we get some sustained soaking rains.

The Tennessee Department of Agriculture, Forestry Division, had crews handle six fire calls in East Tennessee alone one day last week. The largest, some 2,000 acres, was a wildfire on Short Mountain near Rogersville. Great Smoky Mountains National Park had a stubborn wildfire near Cherokee last week.

Thus far in Tennessee, over 950 wildfires have burned over 11,100 acres statewide. Aboue one in third has been arson-caused, a third have been escaped debris fires, and the rest have other causes.

Forestry officials recommend these fire prevention tips:

Take precautions when using farm and other equipment (bush hogs, balers, lawn mowers, ATVs, etc.) or anything with an exhaust system, including parked cars, that could create a spark near dry vegetation.

Check first for local burn and firework ordinances. Citizens are encouraged to avoid shooting fireworks in dry areas and attend public fireworks displays instead.

Report fire activity immediately to the local fire department.

Delay debris burning until significant precipitation is received. Even when conditions are safe, notify your fire department and neighbors, don’t burn on windy days, establish a wide control line down to mineral soil, keep fire containment equipment and water on hand, and stay with the fire until it is completely out.

Landowners are liable for damages and suppression costs for fires that escape their property, and landowners are responsible for maintaining control over their fire, so make sure you have enough assistance/equipment on hand, put a control line down to bare soil around your fire, and have tools/water handy. And remember, outdoor burn permits in Tennessee are required by the Division of Forestry from Oct. 15 through May 15 every year.

Do your part to keep us fire-free so we all can enjoy the holiday season.