With little chance for rain and unseasonably warm temperatures on the horizon, wildland fire officials with the Tennessee Department of Agriculture Division of Forestry are keeping a close eye on weather conditions.
While the division has not seen an increase in the number of wildfires, nor do indicators suggest a high fire danger, the agency is urging citizens to use precaution and good sense when burning outdoors.
“Many areas within the state are experiencing continued hot and dry conditions,” State Forester David Arnold said. “While open-air burning permits are not currently required to burn outdoors, caution and conservative judgment should be used when conducting any outdoor burning.”
Typically, burning permits are not required by the state Division of Forestry except during official fire season, which runs Oct. 15 through May 15 each year. However, citizens should check for local restrictions or burn ordinances issued by municipal governments prior to conducting a burn.
Even under ideal weather conditions there are basic safety precautions to follow when burning outdoors:
• Select a proper location away from steep slopes, forested or dry, uncut grassy areas.
• Establish a control line around your fire, down to bare dirt, before you burn.
• Notify neighbors as a common courtesy.
• Have tools on hand such as a leaf rake and garden hose to control your fire.
• Watch for changing weather conditions as winds can blow your fire in the wrong direction.
• Stay with your fire until it is completely out. It is illegal to leave an open fire unattended.
Officials are also advising that any outdoor debris burning take place during times of day when the relative humidity is higher, typically greater than 40%, and when winds are less than 10 miles per hour. These factors can be found through online weather apps or local news stations.
Additional tips on safe debris burning, as well as wildfire information, can be found on the Division of Forestry’s wildfire prevention website at www.BurnSafeTN.org.