Dry conditions fueling brush fires in the Tennessee Valley
It was another hot day, beating a record high from over 100 years ago.
Dry conditions are being blamed for how quickly an interstate brush fire spread, causing traffic delays in Dade County.
Fire crews tells Channel 3 a tractor trailer caught fire this afternoon on I-59 and the fire spread to brush nearby.
They say the conditions are extremely dry and that one spark is all it takes to start a fire.
"With the drought conditions we're in, it don't take much," said Heath Morton, Chief Ranger for Georgia Forestry Commission.
It's unclear what caused the fire on the interstate. Emergency crews say the dry conditions helped the flames spread quickly.
"This tanker truck caught on fire and of course, it spread to the median of the interstate and then it spread up into the woods," Morton told Channel 3.
For the first time in 122 years, Chattanooga shattered a record high temperature for September 26th at 96 degrees, which is five degrees higher than when it was last set in 1897.
"We didn't just break the record, we obliterated the record. We didn't do anything, mother nature did," said Chief Meteorologist Paul Barys.
Chattanooga has now been upgraded to a severe drought.
"It's very dry. Over the past 30 days we are two to three inches below in rainfall," said Barys.
Barys says people need to be extra cautious this fire season.
"With the leaves falling, any type of spark, any type of flame will start fires," said Barys.
Forestry officials fear if rain doesn't fall soon, it could be a repeat of 2016 when fires ripped across the region.
"If we don't get rain it's going to be just like '16. We are going to continue to burn," added Morton.
Over the past three months, the Georgia Forestry Commission has responded to 41% more fires than normal.
READ MORE | UPDATE: Burn ban for the City of Athens lifted
Burn bans have been issued for portions of our viewing area in both Tennessee and Georgia.