Wildland firefighters anticipate reburning threats amid falling leaves in Cherokee National Forest

Published 9:13 am Tuesday, November 14, 2023

CLEVELAND — As autumn unveils its vibrant display of colors, wildland firefighters on the Cherokee National Forest are bracing for a new challenge. With leaves descending from trees, significant reburning is expected within fire perimeters. Authorities urge the public to steer clear of wildfire-affected areas and emphasize the crucial importance of refraining from flying private drones in or near the infernos, as they disrupt support aircraft operations.
The seasonal drop of dried leaves from tree canopies introduces cured fuel to the forest floor, acting as a potential catalyst for reburning. Crews remain on standby, ready to face challenges to existing fire lines. However, they caution the public to anticipate additional fire activity and the likelihood of heightened smoke levels as new leaf litter ignites.
Despite ongoing efforts, the Cherokee National Forest continues to grapple with new human-caused fire starts. Fire officials are imploring the public to contribute to the firefighting endeavors by reporting anything suspicious to law enforcement.
Here’s an update on the three active wildfires within the Cherokee National Forest:
Tweed Fire:
Burning in Greene and Cocke counties, the Tweed Fire spans 525 acres and is currently 40 percent contained. Moderate to high fire behavior was noted on Sunday, causing the fire to breach main containment lines in a few areas. However, diligent efforts by crews secured these breaches by day’s end. Firefighters established additional lines to prevent the fire from encroaching onto adjacent private land. Aircraft support, both local and out-of-state, aids Cherokee National Forest and additional resources in their ongoing battle against the flames. The cause of the Tweed Fire is under investigation and is believed to be human-caused.
Buck Bald Fire:
Situated in Polk County, three miles north of Farner, the Buck Bald Fire remains at 540 acres with a 60 percent containment rate. Although there was little change reported, firefighters anticipate the potential for reburning as leaves continue to fall. Structures are not immediately threatened, and no significant activity has been reported. Assistance from the Bureau of Land Management and out-of-state crews supports the Forest Service in combating this fire, which is under investigation for arson.
Bullet Fire:
Burning in Monroe County, five miles southeast of Etowah, the Bullet Fire covers 103 acres with a 20 percent containment rate. Fire crews employ indirect tactics in the challenging, steep terrain, keeping fire activity minimal at this time. The cause is being investigated as arson.
With fire danger and restrictions varying across the 10 counties of the Cherokee National Forest, updates on fire restrictions are available at the Supervisor and District Ranger’s Office, the official website, and the Facebook page. The community is urged to stay informed and vigilant in the face of ongoing wildfire challenges.

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