Dry Conditions Blamed For Increase In Brush Fires
by Shannon Royster
NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Middle Tennessee has seen a dramatic number of brush fires during the first couple of months of 2014. So far, nearly 120 fires have been reported and experts fear more could be on the way.
Brush fires seem to be popping up every other day. NewsChannel 5 Meteorologist Lelan Statom said rain would help.
"In the last three weeks wave only gotten about one inch of rain, so a lot of that grass is very dry out there," he said.
Tim Phelps, the information forester with the Tennessee Division of Forestry, said we all have to watch what we do around dry grass and debris.
"It's just very ignitable so any spark could cause that fire so just be very careful," Phelps said.
Experts have been keeping a close eye on the number of brush fires in the Mid-State and the weather fanning the flames.
"For today and the next couple of days there is still the issue of it being very dry," said Statom.
There have already been three brush fires just this week. One occurred in Smith County along Highway 70 and McCall Street, while another in Humphreys County burned more than 10 acres of land. Monday, firefighters battled a large brush fire near Percy and Edwin Warner Parks possibly due to a spark near railroad tracks.
"You can even hear how dry it is," said Phelps. "One spark from an ember or a debris pile from a railroad one little spark can get it going."
Once a brush fire gets going it can be tough on firefighters who battle to put them out.
"Structural fires [is] what we do," said Nashville Fire Deputy Chief Mike Franklin. "But these are tough for a lot of reasons."
Franklin has urged people to use caution at all times and offers this advice.
"Don't build camp fires in areas you shouldn't be building them in, don't flip cigarettes out your car on the interstate in high grass areas even if you think the grass is wet," he said. "If it's brown, it's subject to catch fire."
Right now there is no burn ban to stop you from conducting a debris fire, but If you live in a rural area and want to burn you do need permission.
Between October 15 and May 15, you're required to get a burning permit from the state division of forestry. It's free, but if you're caught without one it could cost you a $50 dollar fine.