Dry weather brings potential for brush fires; Firefighters want community to be vigilant


TRI-CITIES (WJHL)- With record-breaking heat this week and drought-like conditions in the Tri-Cities, firefighters are concerned about potential brushfires.

As the fall season approaches, so does the dry weather that comes with it.

Firefighters are warning their community about how to be safe when burning brush.

In the Elk Mills Poga Community Fire Department Chief, Michael Walsh, is trying to prepair his community for possible brush fires.

“When it gets really really dry that’s when it gets very very dangerous. We have five hundred and ninety-six residents homes in our area. Their houses are in the woods and we don’t want a major fire like in Gatlinburg happen here. A lot of times too, it will get going up the hill and it overwhelms them. Once it starts going up the hill you know one person or two people can’t do nothing with it, ” said Walch.

In the Elk Mills Poga Community, heavy woods and high elevations are an even larger concern compared to other areas.

Storm Team 11’s Brittney Bowman said current drought conditions in the Tri-Cities should leave residents aware of the potential for fires.

“There’s a few different factors that go into weather and fires. One thing is, of course, is the dryness and actually we do have some drought conditions in the Tri-Cities area. So that’s going to imply some dry conditions which will fuel those fires. Another thing that can help fuel these fires is the wind. The winds not only can fan the fire but it also enhances the oxygen levels. So that will help fan out and fuel the fire as well. Even in the upper elevations, if we do have moisture, strong winds will subside down the mountainside, and when air sinks it also dries out. So we’re going to increase the dryness as well as increase those wind speeds. So that will also help to kick off those fires and spread them fairly quickly,” said Bowman.

Chief Walsh’s advice is to wait until it rains to start burning your leftover branches.

“Just be safe when you burn. Always get a burning permit, call the state forestry service, get you as burning permit, and my advice is to wait until it rains and do it the day after,” he said.

October 15 through May 15 anyone starting an open-air fire within 500 feet of a forest, grassland or woodland must by law secure a burning permit from the Tennessee Division of Forestry.

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