City, regional burn bans lifted; Forestry service to issue burn permits Friday

Published 9:14 am Thursday, December 15, 2016


A regional burn ban including Carter and Johnson counties has officially been lifted.
The Tennessee Department of Agriculture’s Division of Forestry received notification Wednesday that Gov. Bill Haslam’s regional ban would be lifted as planned on Thursday, Dec. 15, according to local forestry technician James Heaton.
“We just received a notification about ten minutes ago that the ban will be lifted as expected,” Heaton told the Elizabethton Star Wednesday afternoon.
Gov. Haslam issued a regional burning ban in 51 counties in response to drought-like weather conditions and wildfires in Middle and East Tennessee. The ban was then reduced to 47 counties as conditions lessened in respective areas.
An increase amount of precipitation helped the ease the tension created by a slew of wildfires across the state.
“We received substantial rainfall, which was a great thing,” Heaton said.
The recent wildfire report issued by the state’s Division of Forestry showed only two fires were reported within the East Tennessee District – one fire burning ten acres in Hancock County and another that burned two acres in Hawkins County.
The reported indicated that 1,434 fires were reported across the state, resulting in over 44,000 acres being burned. Of the fires, 693 fires were reported as arson with over 35,000 acres going up in flames.
Heaton added the forestry division will begin offering burn permits on Friday, Dec. 16. To receive a burn permit, visit or call the forestry office at (423) 725-3281.
Along with the state’s ban being lifted, City of Elizabethton Fire Marshal Andy Hardin added the city is set to rescind their burn ban Thursday as well.
“We still ask people to maintain safety precautions,” Hardin said. “Those include staying 50 feet away from a fire, not to burn near a lot of debris. We don’t really go through permits but we ask citizens to call in before performing a burn so we can guide them through the right safety protocols.”
Residents can contact the Elizabethton Fire Department at (423) 542-5421.
Heaton seconded the comments by Hardin, adding that safety precautions are important moving forward.
“We still want people to check on different things,” he said. “Always check for high winds, make sure you have the proper tools and water available. We also want to remind people that it is illegal to burn household trash.
Heaton also wrapped up stint in Sevier County to assist with the wildfires that impacted the area, including Gatlinburg.
“Most everyone spent a few days down there to help with the fires,” he said. “It was a very tragic situation. You can’t control the weather and conditions and it was an unfortunate event that hopefully doesn’t happen again.”

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