CHEROKEE NATIONAL FOREST, Tenn. (WATE) — Recent drought-like conditions have led to several wildfires across East Tennessee. Authorities have been battling one blaze in Cherokee National Forest on the Greene County-Cocke County line that spans several hundred acres.
The blaze, dubbed the Tweed fire by authorities, has been burning since Nov. 8 and is estimated to be around 60% contained as of Tuesday afternoon.
There are around 100 people there working around the clock. With such dry conditions, fire crews say the weather is not helping the matter.
“By the time we got here it was about 40 to 50 acres and right now it’s sitting at about 536 acres,” Cherokee National Forest District Ranger Leslie Morgan said.
Crews from all over the country have been working on the ground and in the skies to create “control lines” to help the fire from spreading any further.
“They did a burn-out operation on Sunday that was really successful,” Morgan said. “We did some tanker drops and reinforced the lines that we had put in, and they burned off of those lines. Essentially, we’re fighting fire with fire. So, you start the fire off the lines that we’ve put in and just burn it to the fire so that it just burns up all the fuel in the fire just goes out.”
We’re told by the U.S. Forest Service that tough terrain and drought-like conditions are what have made this fire so difficult.
“Right now, we’re in the same condition that we were in in 2016. We’re right there, and everybody remembers how bad that was,“ Morgan said.
Officials are urging people not to do any type of burning and say if you have any respiratory issues to stay indoors.
“When it is this dry, it’s just not a good idea to burn brush or have bonfires,” Morgan said.
There have been no injuries reported or loss of structures. We are told that this is being investigated as human-caused.
The U.S. Forest Service is asking people not to fly private drones over the fire area and reminding people that there is a temporary light restriction over the area.