“We haven’t had big issue with arson fires this year, which is a blessing, (and) we’re not having a lot of fires,” in Upper East Tennessee, said Nathan Waters, Tennessee Forestry Division assistant district forester. “The conditions on the ground are dry … the potential is there. It’s won’t get any better until we get significant rainfall, at least a couple of inches.”
Saturday marked the first day the Forestry Division required burn permits for any open burning that isn’t contained within a metal container with a mesh cover. Burn permits are free and issued through the forestry division. Burn permit requirements run through May 15.
State forestry officials rate the burning conditions on a scale of 1 to 5, with 5 being the highest risk. On Monday, Waters said the rating was at 4, which he said was high, due to some light winds.
“People should call their local forestry office to see if they’re issuing burn permits that day,” before starting any outdoor burning, Waters said.
A few other burning tips include:
- making sure to have help on hand.
- keeping debris piles away from wooded areas.
- making sure to stay with your fire until it’s out and make sure it’s out before you leave.
Waters said if a fire does get out of hand, someone should call 911 immediately. Often, a local fire department can get to the scene quicker than forestry division personnel.
“Our fire departments are key,” he said. “We very much appreciate our volunteer fire departments. As long as people are safe and use good sense, we’re OK.”
For more information, or to obtain a burn permit, visit www.burnsafetn.org/ or call the local forestry division area forester at 423-787-1620. Those with debris they want to burn should also check with their local governmental offices to ensure outdoor burning is allowed.