Hamilton County burn ban in effect until further notice
CHATTANOOGA, TN (WRCB) -
A burn ban is in effect across Hamilton County due to "dangerously dry" conditions. Typically, residents can begin burning on October 1st, but that's not the case this year.
This ban is for residents who normally burn wood or vegetation. While the ban does not cover recreational fires, like campfires, officials strongly urge residents to refrain from burning anything right now.
In the middle of a drought, it doesn't take much to get a brush fire going. That's why the Chattanooga-Hamilton County Air Pollution Control Bureau enacted an emergency burn ban until further notice.
Officials said high winds moving into the Tennessee Valley from Hurricane Matthew are expected to increase the risk for large fires.
"Just a few sparks or embers that get caught up by the wind, they can blow for a mile away, land on some dry grass or leaves, and start a brand new fire," said Bruce Garner, Chattanooga Fire Dept.
In the last week, Chattanooga firefighters have responded to several grass fires, including a small brush fire on Stringer's Ridge.
"That's serious, because it can grow very quickly," Garner said. "It can endanger homes and other property."
Right now, fire departments across the area are asking residents to be extra vigilant around open flames.
Smokers are also being reminded to refrain from flicking their burning cigarette butts outside. It's one way grass fires are commonly started along roads and highways.
And even though recreational fires are not a part of the burn ban, they can quickly get out of control if they are not contained. Officials urge campers to make sure a fire is completely out before leaving the area.
"By all means, go outside and enjoy the great outdoors," said Garner. "But hold off on the burning for a while. Be very, very careful about that."
Officials said it will take a large amount of rain to improve conditions. The burn ban is in effect until further notice.