Experts Fear Busy Brush Fire Season

By: Stephen McLamb
By: Stephen McLamb

Top of The World, Blount County (WVLT) - It's dry in East Tennessee, one look at your yard or garden and you know it. Rainfall levels are about six and a half inches below normal.

As Volunteer TV's Stephen McLamb reports, firefighters are worried that the hot dry summer will put the area at a great risk of more destructive fires.

A day after fire took out five acres of land along with a home, the area here at Top of the World is still smoldering. Now, officials say that it is so dry now that something like this could very well happen again.

"Chances are pretty high today. Looks like the humidity is down pretty low. Winds are probably going to be a factor too and it's just extremely dry," says Blount County Fire Chief Dough McClanahan.

Fire officials say conditions for brush fires are ideal right now with plenty of dry land and trees.

Chief McClanahan says human mistakes are the main reason for brush fires starting with a controlled burn. "It gets a little hotter than they expected and it will get away from them quickly."

The Raders' cabin at the Top of the World was lost along with five acres of land on Tuesday. While the fire is still under investigation, the burned home's owner believes it started from a brush fire. "I'm just wondering who was burning around here that would have caused it to do this. I'd sure like to know that."

Unlike the Rader's home with many trees around, Chief McClanahan says to protect your home you need to make sure it is clear of things that can burn up to 100 feet. "Keep everything back and if a brush fire does get out of hand it is not readily going to get to your house. You know, trimming the trees back."

And be especially careful with cigarettes. "Mulch piles are very common to be caught on fire from somebody throwing a cigarette in a mulch pile. It will smolder for a while then you've got a problem."

Some good tips to protect your home from brushfire. And a close call lesson for the people on Top of the World who know now they're not immune from brush fires.

"We would lose everything we had so we don't like to see anything like this," says Richard Bennington, who lives near the fire.

Chief McClanahan says they'll be having a class May 9th at the Airport Hilton on how you can better protect your home against fire.

Nathan Waters with the State Forestry Department says if you want to burn you need to contact your county forestry office.

He says there are burning bans in some counties but it is county by county at this time.


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