Tennessee forestry officials reminding of safety as wildfire season begins

NASHVILLE (WATE) – Tennessee officials are reminding residents to follow safety practices to prevent wildfire if they want to burn yard debris.

Wildfire season in Tennessee officially begins October 15. and there are some simple safety practices to prevent wildfires and house fires.

“If the wind is blowing really strong, you want to consider, ‘Do I want to burn?” Wind carries the sparks,” said Assistant District Forester Nathan Waters with the Tennessee Department of Agriculture Division of Forestry. “When you light it, you want to make sure you keep an eye on it. If the wind shifts, look where the sparks are blowing. You don’t want to put it near the mountains, near the woods or next to a barn or anything.”

Waters shared exactly what you should do before you decide to burn debris.

“Before you burn and you pile your leaves up. Make sure you you are not near any buildings. Make sure you are well away from the woods or anywhere that it might spread. Just go around your fire and dig a little line in mineral soil,” he said. “The bigger the fire the larger the line.”

Waters says it’s very important to stay with your fire until you’re sure it’s out.

“Even if you think its out and there are still hot coals, you leave it you’ll liable for that so you need to make sure you keep control of your fire,” he said.

Residents need to obtain a permit before conducting a burn. Officials say the online burn permit system is free, fast and simple. If you are burning a leaf or brush pile smaller than 8 feet by 8 feet in size, go to www.burnsafetn.org for approval.

For a larger burn, call your local Division of Forestry burn permit phone number Monday through Friday from 8 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. You can find your local number online.

Burn permits are only issued when conditions are conducive to safe burning. If you are inside city limits, there may be additional restrictions. Check with your municpality before you burn.

More online: Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation’s Open Burning Guidelines

Burning without a permit is a Class C misdemeanor punishable by up to 30 days in jail and/or a fine of up to $50. Wildfires caused by arson are a Class C felony punishable by 3 to 15 years in prison and up to $10,000 in fines. Anyone with information about a suspected arson should call the state Fire Marshal’s Arson Hotline at 1-800-762-3017. To report illegal burning, call 1-888-891-TDEC.

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