UPDATE: Catoosa County joins the list of counties with a burn ban in place. This notice follows the drought conditions and the wildfires in the Tennessee Valley.

PREVIOUS STORY: Since Governor Bill Haslam's burn ban was issued Monday night, the Tennessee Forestry Division said they have responded to 11 new fires statewide.

The ban on burning was issued for 51 counties in middle and east Tennessee. 
The largest wildfire in Hamilton County is the Flipper's Bend fire on Signal Mountain burning at least 1,000 acres.
All open air burning is illegal, that includes campfires, fire pits and outdoor grilling.

If you're caught burning you could face serious consequences.
"This is because we have extreme, dry conditions and this is extremely serious so people need to take it seriously and don't burn," said Signal Mountain Fire Chief Eric Mitchell.

Firefighters on Signal Mountain have been assisting crews battling the wildfires but also busy taking calls about the region-wide burn ban.

"One of the things we've seen is neighbors have been more active in calling in on their neighbors that they see burning their burn pits in their backyard,"Chief Mitchell said.

They've been busier than usual dealing with several pop-up brush fires between one and 25 acres.

"Unfortunately some of them could be discarded smoking material, which those are usually ones close to the roadway," he said, "And unfortunately some of them are in areas there's no reason for a fire to be there so they're probably deliberately set."

Firefighters now want to set the record straight.

This burn ban means no open flames anywhere outside.  

With thanksgiving next week, one of the most frequently asked questions is, "What about turkey fryers?"

"That is allowed as well, that's not part of the burn ban," Chief Mitchell said.

As long as you use natural gas or propane and stay away from charcoal or wood fires, deep frying your turkey is allowed.

As for chimneys and fireplaces, technically, if the fire is inside the home, that's also allowed.
But right now it's strongly discouraged.

"For a wood burning fireplace make sure they have their caps on their chimney's in place and their screens in place that would stop any embers from going outside their chimney," he said.

Chief Mitchell said they're keeping an eye out for any violators. It's not about the fines, it's about putting an end to the wildfires.    

"They need to think about themselves, their families, their neighbors. Open burning right now is dangerous," Chief Mitchell said.

Every county in the Channel 3 viewing area is now under some type of burn ban.
If someone is found violating the ban, they could be fined up to $2,500 or spend nearly a year in jail.
So far the Hamilton County Sheriff's Office has issued fewer than five of these citations, other agencies have only issued warnings so far.

All other questions can be answered here: http://www.burnsafetn.org/

PREVIOUS STORY: Tuesday, the Tennessee Valley Authority issued a burn ban on all TVA public lands, recreation areas and facility reservations it manages across its seven-state service area in the Tennessee Valley. 

All open flames are prohibited – including campfires, barbeques, smoking or any other flame producing activity -- as well as vehicle parking on non-paved or gravel surfaces.

In locations where fire danger is extreme, TVA is temporarily closing public access to affected recreation areas and facility reservations. Gates and signs will be in place to block access.

PREVIOUS STORY: Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam issued a proclamation Monday declaring a regional ban on burning in 51 counties in response to the ongoing drought and destructive wildfires throughout Middle and East Tennessee.

Effective immediately, residents in counties covered by the regional ban are not permitted to conduct any open-air burning. The ban includes campfires, and burning of brush, vegetation, household waste or construction debris. The ban will remain in effect until December 15. 

Here are the counties in the Channel 3 viewing area listed under the ban: Bledsoe, Bradley, Grundy, Hamilton, Marion, McMinn, Meigs, Polk, Rhea, and Sequatchie.

Currently the Tennessee Department of Agriculture (TDA) Division of Forestry is fighting 67 wildfires across nearly 16,000 acres in the Cumberland and East Tennessee districts. 

A violation of a burn ban is punishable as a Class A misdemeanor which carries a fine of $2,500 and/or up to 11 months, 29 days in jail.

Robertson and Sumner counties continue to be under a burn ban issued by TDA Commissioner Jai Templeton. A governor’s ban includes municipalities, whereas a commissioner’s ban is superseded by municipal ordinances.

Residents in counties not included under any of the current bans must obtain a safe debris burning permit to burn brush, vegetation, household waste or construction waste. The TDA Division of Forestry, however, does not expect to issue any permits until the state receives substantial precipitation. A violation of burning without a permit is punishable as a Class C misdemeanor which carries a fine of $50 and/or up to 30 days in jail.