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Firefighters demonstrate how dry conditions contribute to growing wildfires

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SIGNAL MOUNTAIN, TN (WRCB) -

Fire crews have repeatedly said dry conditions are fueling the flames and with no significant rainfall predicted for the near future, firefighters are preparing to battle these fires for weeks, maybe even months.

More than 60 active wildfires are burning in Tennessee and two major fires in North Georgia.

Signal Mountain Firefighters showed Channel 3 just how serious these dry conditions are, and how quickly a fire can spread, with controlled demonstration. 

"It's so dry right now it's just a dangerous situation," said Chief Eric Mitchell.

People have been hearing it for weeks, extremely dry conditions and now a record-level drought. But Chief Mitchell said some people still aren't getting the message.

"County fire departments are seeing a pretty serious call volume of people still burning things, burning in their burning pits, burning brush," Mitchell said.

So Chief Mitchell shows us exactly what this means.

In a controlled space, he started a fire.

"You know like a cigarette into a pile of dry leaves," he said.

And Channel 3 start the clock. In just seconds, the fire started to spread.

"Usually there's moisture in the leaves and moisture in the grass so it doesn't catch as readily," he said.

It didn't take long to see flames and smoke.

Firefighters safely put out the flames after two minutes, leaving behind the proof of how this dry ground can create problems, fast.

"You know on the sides of the mountain, over on Mowbray Mountain, anywhere where there's a large volume of trees it's actually a little worse," Chief Mitchell said.

Just a few miles away from his fire department, wildfires on Signal and Mowbray Mountains are burning more than 2,000 acres of land.

"This is the worst I've ever seen," Chief Mitchell said, "We have several weeks ahead of us of these extreme dry conditions."

The Fire Chief let this one fire burn for just two minutes before putting it out. Now typically, he said a response time is about five minutes on any given call.
 

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