Careless brush burning still an issue - WRCBtv.com | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

Careless brush burning still an issue

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HAMILTON COUNTY, TN (WRCB) - Rick Joyce lives in Lakesite, a short distance down Hixson Pike from where a brush fire Wednesday destroyed a vacant house. Strong breezes helped spread it.

"There was a lot of smoke. It got more intense," recalls Joyce. "The wind was blowing toward the city so this area was feeling the effects of the smoke."

A neighbor called 911 and when Dallas Bay volunteer firefighters arrived they learned the owner had been burning brush. He thought all the embers had burned out.

It's unclear whether he had the required permit. Attempts to contact the owner and a tenant leasing his rental home next to where the fire happened were unsuccessful.

Assistant Chief Larry Fugatt says brush fires are all too common right now.

"We've had some that's went up to 3 and 4 acres," says Fugatt.

He suggests to start small to keep burning under better control.

"The burn permit requires a burn pile no larger than 12'x12'x12'," says Fugatt. "But I recommend it to be half that size and then you can add to it as you go. Keep separate piles."

Also make sure your brush is plenty dry so you don't need unnecessary fuel to get the fire going.

"People are injured every year pouring gasoline on a camp fire or pouring it on a brush fire to start it," adds Fugatt.

Have a hose or buckets of water ready if things do get out of hand.

The only things that seemingly survived Wednesday's brush fire are two binders full of baseball cards. Fugatt can't emphasize safety enough and recalls a brush fire that cost one man his life due in part to his not watching the ground and his footing.

"He actually fell into that brush fire," says Fugatt.

Joyce doesn't burn on his property, but asks his neighbors to please be careful.

"Keep an eye on it while it's going, even after it's going," urges Joyce. "Don't just assume it's out."

The burning ban goes into effect May 1, so it's too late to receive a permit in the mail in time for this season. If you'd like information on applying for a permit for the fall contact the Air Pollution Control Bureau at 423-643-5970 or click here.
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