Hot, Dry Conditions Lead to Fire AdvisoryWednesday, June 27, 2012 | 04:13 pm
State Officials Urge Citizens to Delay Burning Debris, Leave Fireworks to Professionals
NASHVILLE – State officials are urging citizens to take fire precautions for the upcoming Fourth of July holiday. The Tennessee Department of Agriculture Division of Forestry is asking the public to refrain from debris burning until significant precipitation is received and to avoid other activities that could cause fire.
“Most areas of the state are experiencing very hot and dry conditions with low humidity,” State Forester Steven Scott said. “While permits are not currently required for open, outdoor burning, as a precaution we’re urging citizens to avoid debris burning until conditions improve.”
Burning permits are required by the state Division of Forestry only during official fire season, Oct. 15 through May 15. However, the number of fires statewide has increased since mid-June due to the unusually hot, dry conditions.
“Most of the fires have been smaller, accidental grass fires that have been responded to with the help of local and volunteer fire departments, but we also have had some larger, smoldering woods fires that could be dangerous if not contained,” said Scott.
Forestry officials say that in addition to escaped debris fires, major causes include sparks from field equipment and vehicles, discarded cigarettes, lightening, campfires, arson and fireworks. Citizens can help support their local fire departments by checking for and following local burn restrictions and quickly reporting any wildfire.
State Fire Marshal Julie Mix McPeak encourages Tennesseans to have a fire-safe Fourth by leaving the fireworks to the professionals. "To avoid the risk of injury and property damage associated with consumer fireworks, join other community members in attending a public display put on by trained and licensed professionals,” McPeak said.
Forestry officials also recommend other fire prevention tips which include:
* Taking precautions when using farm and other equipment (bush hogs, balers, lawn mowers, ATVs, etc.) or anything with an exhaust system, including parked cars, that could create a spark near dry vegetation.
* Checking first for local burn and firework ordinances. Citizens are encouraged to avoid shooting fireworks in dry areas and attend public fireworks displays instead.
* Reporting fire activity immediately to your local fire department.
* Delaying debris burning until significant precipitation is received. Even when conditions are safe, notify your fire department and neighbors, don’t burn on windy days, establish a wide control line down to mineral soil, keep fire containment equipment and water on hand, and stay with the fire until it is completely out.
Woods arson is a class C felony punishable by three to 15 years in prison and up to $10,000 in fines. Anyone with information about suspected arson activity should call the state Fire Marshal’s Arson Hotline toll-free at 1-800-762-3017.
Additional fire safety tips, as well as up-to-date wildfire information, can be found on the TDA Division of Forestry’s wildfire prevention website at www.burnsafetn.org.