Burning Permits Required For Next Six Months

Johnson City, Tenn. (AP) -- Anyone wanting to set an open fire outdoors needs a burning permit from now through May 15th.

The fire season began Sunday statewide.

State Forester Steve Scott says not only is getting a burning permit a requirement of state law, it lets the Forestry Division communicate with landowners about how, when and where it's safe to burn.

Getting a burning permit isn't difficult. It takes a call to the local Forestry Division office and is issued verbally. Permits are usually good for 24 hours, but can be issued for weekend burning.

The offices are open from 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. weekdays, local time.

The Forestry Division web site has a list of the number to call for residents of each county in the state.

More than 1900 fires have burned nearly 30,000 acres in Tennessee so far this year.

State officials say the top cause of wildfires is burning debris escaping, but about one-third of the blazes were arsons.

Copyright 2006 by the Associated Press. All rights reserved.