Firefighters fear high winds that come with long-awaited rainfal - WRCBtv.com | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

Firefighters fear high winds that come with long-awaited rainfall

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HAMILTON COUNTY, TN (WRCB) -

For the first time in weeks, significant rain will fall across the Channel 3 viewing area. 

As Channel 3's team of meteorologists have reported, it all starts Monday night and then again Wednesday morning. It's a long awaited solution for the ongoing drought and the 40 wildfires continuing to burn throughout Tennessee. 

Over the last 24 hours, the Tennessee Department of Agriculture Division of Forestry responded to eight new fires statewide for a total of 113.5 acres. 

On Thanksgiving Day alone, five fires were sparked; four of them due to arson. 

Though the majority of the fires are 100 percent contained, firefighters are worried the high winds accompanying the rainfall will be a problem. 

"We've been preparing for the wind for a week now, making sure our lines are really good, and that we don't have any trees that are close to the line that could fall over and cause a fire to go across our line. And, we've been making sure that some of the stumps that are close to the line, and putting dirt and stuff on those that way the wind doesn't blow any sparks across our line," Shannon Gann, an area forester with the TN Forestry Division said. 

Gann has been helping firefighters fight wildfires for weeks now, and for the first time since they've sparked, she has hope the fight will end soon with a long awaited blanket of rain.

READ MORE | Deep South under severe weather threat through Wednesday 

"It's so dry that the duff layer is burning and it's burning the roots so if we get enough rain that will stop that and really put the fires out really good, because right now, we're still with the wind and then we have leaves that will fall on them so that starts the fire back up again," Gann said. 

The "duff layer" she's referring to is a organic material layer found between tree roots and decomposed leaves, twigs, etc.. 

Being that the base of the thousands of trees that make up the Tennessee Valley are being damaged, Gann said the longtime impact is crucial.

"You can have a drought and it can rain everyday after that for the next 10 years, but the hurt that was on the trees in the initial drought, it takes sometimes up to 10 years for it show up, " Gann said. "So it may start raining. It may start raining for a while. It may start raining really well for a couple of years, but you still will see some trees die, due to the previous drought."

Gann said firefighters aren't worried about any lightning sparking fires or heavy rain leading to mudslides, but the future is still uncertain. 

"A lot of people think now that we got all of this rain the drought is over; the drought is not over. This does not get us completely out of the woods. It's gonna help; it's gonna give us a break. Hopefully, it will be more rain after this front moves through," Gann said.

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