(WJHL) – Wildfires around the region have been igniting recently. It is fall fire season in both Tennessee and Southwest Virginia where the likelihood of wildfires starting is higher due to drier weather conditions.
One wildfire named the Fish and Chips wildfire in Grundy, Virginia is now contained. It started last week and consumed over 800 acres.
Several wildfires have been in Buchanan County, Virginia. The Buchanan County Sheriff’s Department said in a statement that an estimated 1,100 acres of property have been destroyed due to forest fires. However, no homes have been directly impacted by damages.
In part of their statement, the Buchanan County Sheriff’s Department said the following.
“We urge everyone to use extreme caution when burning anything at this time, dry weather conditions, as well as foliage on the ground that acts as tender to a fire can often cause the simplest blaze to spread out of control very quickly. A single spark could travel a great distance, in turn starting a fire that could have the potential to cause even more damage. We would also like to urge anyone who may have health issues to stay indoors as much as possible, the smoke from the fires can often exacerbate any breathing condition one may have. As always please call 911 for any concerns or if assistance is needed, we are always available.”Buchanan County Sheriff’s Office
Several smaller wildfires have ignited in Northeast Tennessee as well. There is currently no burn ban in place.
“If it gets much drier than what we have right now, they’re likely to do that,” Jimmy Erwin, Unicoi County EMA Director said. “I’m very surprised they haven’t. I know other counties have had several mountain fires and forest fires has gotten out of control. We’ve been very lucky in Unicoi County so far.”
Hampton-Valley Forge Firefighter, Dareck Woods, said it would have to rain a good amount for conditions to be safer for burning.
“A lot of people think because if it rains a little bit, it’s OK, but with the humidity so low, it dries up pretty quickly,” Woods said. “So it doesn’t take much. It has to rain quite a bit in order for it to really even make a big relief.”
Erwin said when it’s dry, it’s recommended not to burn. However, if you still choose to burn, he and Woods want people to make sure they’re using proper safety tips.
“If they burn in a barrel, burn in a garbage, something like that,” Erwin said. “Make sure that there’s at least 100 feet around the burn pit or burn barrel where there’s no debris or any dried grass or leaves that can catch on fire.”
“Because it’s so dry, wet the ground around the fire that you’re going to light approximately ten feet away from the fire, Woods said. “Wet it, keep a close eye on it. Also, have a rake or shovel and water supply close in case something does spark a little bit.”
Erwin and Woods both say conditions are so dry that even cigarettes that are not properly put out can start a fire.
“Someone could throw a cigarette out of a vehicle that’s traveling down the road and hit the dry grass and catch it on fire,” Erwin said. “It’s that dry right now.”
“The leaves are dry, really really dry right now,” Woods said. “So, it doesn’t take much.”
Burn permits are still required before igniting open fires during fire season in Tennessee.
Before obtaining a burn permit, check your city or county to make sure there are no burning restrictions in your locality.