Controlled burns underway across East Tennessee

Many residents across Knox County may see smoke over the next few days due to the prescribed burns.
Published: Apr. 6, 2021 at 9:49 AM EDT|Updated: Apr. 6, 2021 at 10:06 PM EDT
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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) - People across East Tennessee reported seeing smoke in the air Tuesday. Rural Metro Fire officials confirmed multiple controlled burns were underway on Tuesday morning.

The controlled burns are centered in the areas of Forks of the River and Watt Road.

On Monday, the U.S. Forest Service conducted a controlled burn in Monroe County.

The burns caused smoke in the air which contributed to the poor air quality Tuesday morning. Around 9 a.m. Knoxville’s Air Quality Index was in the “unhealthy for sensitive groups” range.

The Tennessee Division of Forestry confirmed controlled burns taking place on Tuesday in Blount, Claiborne, Union, Morgan and Scott counties. A controlled burn is also taking place on the Oak Ridge Reservation. Nathan Waters is Assistant District Forester for the state in this East Tennessee area, and said Tuesday, “We’ve had a lot of smoke that settled into the Valley last night. You know with cold weather last night, got a little cooler, so everything’s settled down. There were some burns yesterday. And especially in Maryville and South Knoxville, some places around Seven Islands, I believe they burned around there yesterday. That smoke settles in and it’s annoying, but it’s sort of a good thing, because we want to burn when there’s a little bit of wind, but we don’t want a lot of wind. We don’t want the fire to get out and cause a wildfire.”

According to the Tennessee Department of Forestry, controlled burns help reduce the catastrophic damage of wildfire by safely reducing excessive brush, shrubs and trees. They also encourage native vegetation to grow and are used to maintain the many plant and animal species whose habitats depend on periodic fire.

“When we burn we’re trying to get the kudzu, privet, a lot of honeysuckle and stuff out of fields. A lot of areas they’re trying to have native American grasses, and that’s key,” Waters said. “What’s been there for years, they’re trying to restore it, a lot of habitat for birds and stuff, bring a lot of stuff back like the bob white quail real important to these efforts so that we can get these animal species back and get sustainable populations back in Tennessee.”

East Tennessee residents may see smoke and hazy conditions into the weekend due to the prescribed burns. Check the air quality in your area here.

Smoke in the Air Across East Tennessee
Smoke in the Air Across East Tennessee(WVLT)

Prescribed burns will continue later in the week in the Big South Fork National Park area.

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