NASHVILLE (WATE) – Burn bans have been issued in more counties and cities in East Tennessee due to the ongoing drought conditions.
Tennessee State Agriculture Commissioner announced Friday burn bans in Claiborne, Jefferson, Loudon and Sevier counties, effective immediately. These are the first counties to receive burn bans from the state. The ban applies to all open-air burning, including leaf and woody debris, construction burning, campfires, outdoor grills, and other fire activities.
The city of Pigeon Forge also issued a burn ban on Friday. Burn bans were issued earlier this week by local officials in Knox County, Gatlinburg, Loudon County and the backcountry of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
As of Thursday, most of East Tennessee is under the extreme drought category. Blount County is not issuing burn permits at this time.
The Blount County Fire Department has already responded to several fires in the past couple of days that got out of control due to the extreme drought including this one here.
“Started a fire in his burn barrel and thought all the fire was out. When he went inside his home a short time later he heard an explosion and he looked outside and the entire hill up here was on fire, the fire had spread over to his camper, his mobile home over here. Prior to our arrival the fire had already spread into the home and caught the entire him on fire,” said Captain Kermit Easterling.
Even though the county doesn’t have a burning ban, it is still extremely dangerous.
“Control burns, leaf piles, brush piles. Don’t even think about it. Not only are you responsible for that if it gets out of hand, you are responsible for your neighbors property as well. Just out of common sense, please don’t burn,” stated Chief McClanahan.
The fire danger goes beyond burning brush.
“Dropping a cigarette, dropping a match. Potential is there to starr very quickly.”
Chief McClanahan wants everyone to be safe this week.
“The main thing is to be careful. If you see smoke or if you see fire report it,” said Chief McClanahan