Greeneville, Greene County (AP) -- The spring fire season is off to an active start in East Tennessee. Now, the US Forest Service is about to add fires of its own.
The agency plans to burn about 5500 acres of woodland in Greene, Washington and Unicoi counties in the coming weeks.
Forest Service spokeswoman Cheryl Summers says the agency burns about 5,000 acres each year in "prescribed burns" to reduce the leaves and brush that could fuel wildfires and send them out of control.
The controlled fires also benefit wildlife by burning vegetation that competes with desired plants for light and nutrients.
Cherokee District Ranger Terry Bowerman says officials will look for the right humidity and wind conditions during the next six weeks and set fires in the areas of Deacon Creek, Big Pine, Clark Creek, Horse Creek and Line Pine Gap.
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