Smoke blankets region, expected to dissipate soon

Published 12:27 am Wednesday, November 9, 2016

It was a rather smoky Tuesday morning for Carter County natives.
The area, along a portion of the state, received an increase in smoke following a rash of fire taking place throughout Tennessee and portions of North Carolina and Kentucky.
Nathan Waters, Department of Forestry East Tennessee District spokesperson, stated fires are coming in from surrounding areas with smoke settling in due to dry temperatures.
“It’s started to settle in the valley,” he said. “We don’t suspect these come from debris fires.”
The division issued a report Tuesday that said it had responded to 21 new fires in the Cumberland and East Tennessee District, along with six in the Highland Rim and one in West Tennessee.
Locally, reported fires have included 71-acre burn in Unicoi County, near Spivey Mountain, and two fires spreading across 11 acres in Greene County.
The departments expects these fires to come from different outlets, including arson, escaped debris fires and dumped ashes from grills.
While firefighters are addressing the issues locally, the department is not allowing any permits.
“We are not issuing any burn permits right now,” Waters added. “There are currently burn bans in effect in Jefferson, Sevier, Loudon and Claiborne counties.”
According to the National Weather Service – Morristown, Carter and Johnson counties were included in a special weather statement issued Tuesday.
The report read, “area fires are producing plumes of smoke across much of the area reducing localized visibilities to one-quarter mile or less and producing very unhealthy air quality conditions. Area residents and visitors will want to remain indoors to avoid excessive exposure to smoke.”
Citizens are encouraged to regularly check the TDEC Facebook page for more updates throughout the days ahead.
But the area is expected to see relief soon, according to the Tennessee Department of Environment & Conservation (TDEC).
The department issued a Code Red Air Quality Alert for Nov. 8, including Knoxville, Chattanooga and the Great Smokey Mountains.
“Ongoing wildfires in East TN are causing significant impacts to air quality monitors located near Chattanooga and Knoxville,” the report stated. “Most of these fires are located along the Cumberland Plateau and in the mountains … a frontal boundary will pass through the state, improving air quality early Wednesday.”
Citizens are encouraged to visit for more information on the status of fires in the state.

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