Tennessee officials encourage precautions to prevent wildfires

(Photo: Crystal Oxendine)
(Photo: Crystal Oxendine)

NASHVILLE (WATE) – With little to no rain in the forecast for the next 10 days across Tennessee, state officials are asking everyone to take extra precaution to make sure outdoor fires get out of control.

The Tennessee Emergency Management Agency says drought and dry conditions have contributed to 837 wildfires this year in Tennessee. The State Fire Marshal’s Office has a list of tips to help prevent your outdoor fire from getting out of hand:

  • Have an adult present at all times when a bonfire, chiminea, fire pit, or outdoor fireplace is burning.
  • Keep children and pets at least three feet away from open flames.
  • Dried flowers, cornstalks, crepe paper and other types of fall décor are highly flammable and should be kept a safe distance, at least three feet, from open flames and heat sources, including light bulbs and heaters.
  • Consider using battery-operated flameless candles and solar-powered patio (tiki) torches outside in place of an open flame. Flameless candles come in all colors, shapes and sizes, and are a safer alternative.
  • It is safest to use battery-operated candles or glow sticks in a jack-o’-lantern. If you use a flame candle, use extreme caution and keep them well attended at all times.
  • A grill should be placed well away from the home and out from under eaves and overhanging branches.
  • If using a charcoal grill, let the coals completely cool before disposing in a metal container.
  • Never leave a grill unattended.
  • Never park a vehicle over a pile of leaves.  The heat from the vehicle’s catalytic converter or exhaust system could ignite the leaves below.

Related: Wildfire concerns continue in East Tennessee

The Tennessee Department of Agriculture Division of Forestry also encourages precautions to make sure outdoor burning is handled correctly:

  • Avoid burning on dry, windy days.
  • Burn late in the day after the wind has quieted and humidity begins to increase, usually after 5:00 p.m.
  • Check to see if weather changes are expected. Outdoor burning should be postponed if shifts in wind direction, higher winds or wind gusts are forecast.
  • Before doing any burning, establish wide control lines down to bare mineral soil at least five feet wide around any burn barrels and even wider around brush piles and other piled debris to be burned. The larger the debris pile, the wider the control line needed to ensure that burning materials won’t be blown or roll off the pile into vegetation outside the line.
  • Stay with all outdoor fires until they are completely out.
  • Keep water and hand tools ready in case your fire should attempt to spread.
  • If you burn in a burn barrel or other trash container, be sure it is equipped with a ½” mesh screen or metal grid to keep burning material contained.
  • Stay abreast of wildfire danger levels and heed warnings and bans on outdoor burning.
  • Be aware of where your smoke is going. Avoid burning when your smoke will be bothersome to neighbors or sensitive locations such as highways.

And if you’re burning a campfire in a state park, you should immediately report a fire or a potential fire danger to 911 and observe the following tips from the Tennessee State Parks:

  • Use designated areas – Campfires in Tennessee State Parks must be contained within designated grills or fire grates.
  • Be responsible – Never leave a fire unattended, even for a minute. Smoke in a car or designated area if possible. Dispose of cigarettes in a non-flammable container. Don’t allow children and pets near the campfire and never leave them unsupervised.
  • Ensure your campfire is completely extinguished with water before leaving.
  • Play it safe – Keep a bucket of water and a shovel nearby. Stack extra wood upwind and away from the fire. After lighting, do not discard the match until it is cold.

 

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