What a difference a year (with rain) makes for wildfires - WRCBtv.com | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

What a difference a year (with rain) makes for wildfires

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HAMILTON COUNTY, TN (WRCB) -

In 2016, more than 200 acres burned in the Prentice Cooper State Forest. It was one of dozens of wildfires across the southeastern United States in 2016.

Officials say the area now is pretty much back to normal. But there are some places that you can tell were affected by the fires.

Jim Lane, with the Tennessee Division of Forestry, says without the response of volunteers and other forestry teams from across the country, the damage could have been a lot worse.

Last year's conditions in our area were the worst he's seen in his 39 years of experience as a forester, Lane tells Channel 3. 

Lane said "It was so, extremely dry. The roots were burning out from under the trees. Anything and everything was smoldering. We'd put out a fire and contain a fire, but we would still have to contend with it for a long period of time. Normally it would rain and put the fire out, but not last year."

The months of extreme drought and lack of rain are what contributed to the wildfires.

As we head into wildfire season, Channel 3 meteorologist David Karnes says things are a little different this year. 

"So far this year, we've had times were we were ten and a half inches above rainfall. But we haven't seen much rain in the past two or three weeks, so that number has gone down, but still we're so much better off this year then we were last, " Karnes explained.

Even though rainfall totals are looking good right now, officials at Prentice Cooper say the threat of fires are still possible, and stress the importance of being careful and mindful of burning and campfires.

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