RMSP implements burn bans following rash of fires

Published 6:25 am Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Photo Courtesy Roan Mountain State Park Facebook Page Smoke in the air was apparent over the weekend in Roan Mountain. Pictured, smoke lingers throughout the area during the weekend.

Photo Courtesy Roan Mountain State Park Facebook Page
Smoke in the air was apparent over the weekend in Roan Mountain. Pictured, smoke lingers throughout the area during the weekend.

Taking the necessary precautions, Roan Mountain State Park is temporarily putting a halt on campfires within the premise.
Due to the recent surge of fires across the state, Park Manager J.R. Tinch said the area isn’t taking any chances due to dry weather, which is expected to continue throughout the region for the coming days.
“We have a burn ban in effect at the park,” Tinch said Monday morning. “The park isn’t allowing any campfires in the park with the dry weather we’ve had. The ban was put in place with all the fires going on across the state and smoke coming in from North Carolina.”
The call came due a multitude of factors, Tinch said, including the rough terrain of the park and the lack of water due to the state park’s primary water source coming from wells.
Tinch added he’s been activated twice since the upheaval of fires to help combat the fires, finishing up a stint in the Chattanooga area. With state park rangers being certified as Wildland fighters, Tinch assisted on the frontline of the Flipper Bend fire that has engulfed approximately 1,000 acres near the Cumberland Trail. Seeing the fires first hand, the state park is wanting to take the necessary steps so that a fire of that magnitude would steer clear of the area, according to the park manager. Tinch also provided helpful tips to attendees of the park.
“If you see any type of smoke, don’t hesitate to contact someone at the park,” Tinch said.
Roan Mountain State Park isn’t the only entity taking the necessary precautions.
In a statement issued from Elizabethton Fire Marshal Andy Hardin Monday afternoon, the Elizabethton Fire Department is putting a ban on open burning until further notice.
According to the statement, “At this time, this will not include grilling or burn pits. If conditions worsen, the ban will be extended to include all fires. Once conditions improve, we will issue another press release lifting the ban.”
Cherokee National Forest also issued a fire ban effective Friday, Nov. 11, across the entire forest. The ban, according to information provided by the organization, includes building, maintaining, attending or using a fire, charcoal or stove fire inside or outside developed recreation sites and smoking, except within an enclosed vehicle or building, or developed recreation site, or while stopped in an area at least three feet in diameter that is barren or cleared of all flammable material.
With the most recent update Sunday from Cherokee National Forest, the Tennessee Department of Agriculture issued a statement about the Neddy Mountain Fire — located in Cocke County. Due to low humidity and dry conditions, the department added the fire burned over 320 acres, with structures threatened, and said that over 65 firefighters are working to combat the blaze. The department also issued an update of active fires Sunday with 74 fires currently burning and over 13,000 acres being caught in the crosshairs.
It’s an unfortunate situation with the fires, Tinch said, adding the primary reason for the outbreak is due to a string of arson fires across the state. Individuals with knowledge on any suspect arson fires are encouraged to call the state’s arson hotline at 1-800-762-3017.
The burn ban at Roan Mountain State Park is in effect until further notice. For updates from the park, visit their website and Facebook online or call (423) 772-0190.

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