Early Start To The Fire Season

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Campbell County (WVLT) The long hot dry spell is prompting an early fire season this year.

Already, a 200 acre forest fire rages in Campbell County.

WVLT Volunteer TV's Stephen McLamb has the latest.

This is something that we usually talk about in the fall, after the leaves die and come to the ground.

But officials say that's already happening and causing problems in all of East Tennessee.

With 200 acres already burned, a fire rages in Campbell County just north of LaFollette.

Tip Maples, a Forestry Technician says, "it's so dry in this area, just one little spark will start a fire now."

The ongoing dry weather is moving up the fire season that usually begins in October when the leaves begin to fall.

Nathan Waters, Assistant District Forester says, "it's sort of unusual with the drought that we've had. We've had weather stations that we have across the state report up to 14, 15 inches behind."

State fire officials say this is one of as many as five fires over the weekend in the area, some causing problems.

Waters continues, "we had a fire Sunday over on Interstate 40 that I think closed down a lane on the interstate for a while just because of visibility."

More than twenty people are working on the Campbell County fire and officials say the dry weather is making it hard to contain.

Maples says, "the hard line that we had built yesterday we lost it last night."

On the area of Cumberland Mountain there are homes.

"We do have the volunteer fire department on standby in case something goes wrong."

With the dry weather, Waters says there are a lot of unusual fires started by lightning. But this fire was started by man.

Maples says, "the landowner doing some debris burning had a large brush pile and evidently the wind carried an ember over to the mountainside."

Waters continues, "if you've got something to burn just wait to burn it later. Be careful. Don't throw cigarettes down. Make sure your campfires are out."

Because the weather is so dry, state officials are contemplating moving up burn permit dates.

Waters says they usually begin those in Mid-October but says state officials are deciding those now.

If that happens, we'll pass that information on to you.

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