Officials discouraging outdoor burning because of dry conditions - WSMV News 4

Officials discouraging outdoor burning because of dry conditions

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Forestry officials have used helicopters in battling a fire on Signal Mountain. (Photo: WRCB-TV) Forestry officials have used helicopters in battling a fire on Signal Mountain. (Photo: WRCB-TV)

The dry weather across Middle Tennessee has forced one city to ban outside burns and the Tennessee Division of Forestry to recommend to people not to burn items outdoors.

The Spring Hill Fire Department issued a ban on burning in the city until a significant amount of rainfall occurs.

“We are currently experiencing very dry conditions with lower humidity and higher winds, making for prime conditions for a brush fire to get out of hand,” said Spring Hill Fire Chief Terry Hood in a news release.

Hood said in the release that there had been more than 25 brush fires reported and extinguished by local fire departments on Saturday and Sunday in Maury and Williamson counties.

“The grass fire we had on Saturday on Saturn Parkway, the wind was pushing the fire as fast as you could fight it,” Hood said in a news release. “It can be very dangerous with the current conditions.”

Channel 4 meteorologists are not forecasting a significant amount of rain in the next seven days. There is only a 20 percent chance of rain on a couple of days later this week.

The Tennessee Division of Forestry encouraged people to forgo outdoor burning until at least Saturday, which is the first day a burn permit is required.

“We’re encouraging people to refrain from outdoor burning until Saturday,” said Jere Jeter, Tennessee State Forester. “That is the historical beginning of our fire season. At that time you will be required to have a burn permit in order to do outdoor burning.”

Burn permits allow officials to know where burning is taking place. Those are only issued when conditions are OK to burn outdoors.

Landowners that are burning piles of debris or leaves, anything that’s burning on their own property, can get burn permits online. If you are burning larger piles than 8 feet by 8 feet, you’re required to get a burn permit by phone call by contacting the Division of Forestry in your local county.

If you live within city limits, you will also need to contact your local fire department to see if there are any burn restrictions.

“Sometimes people don’t realize when conditions are bad, how quickly a fire can get away,” said Jeter in a release. “Someone can be burning with all the right intentions of burning a small fire to burn leaves or something, but if they’re not aware of the wind and how dry things are, sparks can get away from that burn area and cause a larger fire, which is a concern to us.”

Forestry officials are currently battling three fires in Hamilton and Marion counties in southeast Tennessee.

In the Roberts Mill area of Signal Mountain in Hamilton County, a fire estimated to be 70 to 80 acres are burning. Officials report major progress has been made on both flanks.

“The most problematic fire we had was in Hamilton County on Signal Mountain,” said Jeter. “It was a fire in a residential area. We had to call in an air helicopter from the U.S. Forest Service to assist in dropping water to protect homes there.

“We’ve had actually two break overs on that fire and the helicopter will be flying again, assisted by another plane, a control plane, flying above the helicopter to direct where the water drops take place.”

The Big Fork Fire, less than five miles from the Roberts Mill Fire, in Marion County is estimated to be about 80 acres.

A crew is on the way to TVA Road in Marion County to battle another fire. Details of how much land is burning is not available.

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