BRISTOL, Tenn. (WJHL) – As temperatures continue to drop and conditions are becoming dryer, the risk of wildfires increases throughout the region.
“Conditions are beginning to get drier here in East Tennessee,” said U.S. Forest Service Public Information Officer James Heaton. “So, the fire potential is beginning to increase.”
While the conditions allow for it, the U.S. Forest Service said it’s conducting prescribed burns. Locally, the U.S. Forest Service conducted burns in Bristol, Tennessee on Friday in the Cherokee National Park. These burns take place every year while needed conditions are met.
Heaton said that the region is currently in a ‘Moderately Dry’ category, meaning the potential is not as high as areas further south.
“The south end of the forest is a lot drier than we are here on the north end,” said Heaton.
However, Heaton reiterates that the risk has to potential to rise.
“Conditions are beginning to get drier,” Heaton said. “And with that, we encourage people to be careful with their fires.”
Heaton said the Forest Service is using the drought as a time to conduct their burns. While this appears dangerous, Heaton said they check factors such as weather to make sure the fire can be controlled.
“Whenever we conduct a prescribed fire, we’re looking at those current and expected weather forecasts over the next few days to make sure that we’re burning in the periods that are conducive to meeting our objectives there,” Heaton said.
Heaton has asked the public to take similar precautions when looking to conduct their own burns.
“We recommend that people always check the local weather forecast to make sure that conditions are not going to be too windy, too dry for a fire,” Heaton said. “We always recommend that people get a burning permit where and when they are required. And always take that extra level of precautions; as far as having a water hose, buckets of water or tools handy should their fire begin to escape.”