Wildfire season begins, burning permits required

EAST TENNESSEE (press release)—Wildfire season for East Tennessee is here. In Tennessee, the official wildfire season begins Oct. 15 and continues until May 15 of the coming year.

Persons doing outdoor burning during this time frame are required by state law to obtain a burn permit free of charge from the Tennessee Department of Agriculture, Forestry Division before they burn. There are two options available to obtain a burn permit. Between the hours of 8:30 a.m. thru 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday, call your local state forestry office as listed in your local phone directory under state government, or go online any day of the week from 9 a.m. thru 12 midnight EST to www.burnsafetn.org.

Online permits only take a few minutes to obtain, and are available for all counties in Tennessee, with the exception of Knox, Davidson, Madison and Shelby counties. Using the online permit system is a great way to avoid heavy call volume which often occurs on Fridays as residents prepare to burn leaf and brush piles over the weekend.

Restrictions for online permits include that they are only applicable for individual debris piles 8 ft. x 8 ft. or smaller: persons seeking to burn large brush piles or multiple sets must call their local Forestry office for a permit. Also, if the property requesting a burn permit is inside a city limit or restricted area, the owner is responsible for obtaining a permit from the city and following local ordinances.

All persons doing outdoor burning should be aware that during times of extreme drought or wildfire danger, permits may be restricted or cancelled. Persons burning illegally during these periods are subject to receiving a citation and may be responsible for costs associated with extinguishment of their fire. Escaped debris burns are the leading cause of wildfires in Tennessee.

Here are some safety tips for outdoor debris burning: 1) do not burn adjacent to forest or grassland, 2) watch the wind, 3) have tools and help on hand to contain the fire, 4) dig a line down to mineral soil around the fire, 5) notify your neighbors, 6) get a permit, check local burn ordinances and 6) do not leave your fire until it is completely out.

If you have questions about debris fire safety or fire prevention, contact your county Forestry office or visit www.burnsafetn.org.

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