KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — On Sunday, Oct. 15 the Tennessee Division of Forestry will start requiring burn permits for debris piles.

This applies to areas without local restrictions and runs through May 15.

Anyone starting an open-air fire that’s located within 500 feet of a forest, grassland, or woodland must get a burn permit from TN Forestry. Burning trash or refuse is not permitted and should instead be taken to a local convenience center.

According to TN Forestry, careless debris burning is a primary cause of wildfires every year in Tennessee, resulting in losses of natural resources, property and sometimes lives.

“Fire can be an effective tool when used properly,” the Burn Safe TN page states. “Even so, the best intentions can produce disastrous results when safety precautions are not taken.”

TN Forestry says the following tips should be followed when it is safe to conduct a debris burn:

  • Check with local authorities to make sure there are no local restrictions on burning currently in place, especially in cities and towns that have their own burning permit system.
  • GET A PERMIT. A permit is required from the Tennessee Division of Forestry between October 15 to May 15 where local restrictions do not supersede.
  • Notify your local fire department and neighbors to let them know your plans to burn
  • Do not burn on windy days
  • Stay abreast of changing weather conditions
  • Establish wide control lines down to bare mineral soil at least five feet wide around burn piles
  • Keep fire containment equipment on hand during the fire (e.g. rake, shovel, water)
  • Stay with the fire until it is completely out.