USA — Firefighters suspect a cooking fire that quickly got out of control set off a blaze that could be seen for miles around South Knoxville Thursday.
Firefighters say it’s getting to be that time of year again, fire season.
Thursday’s fire was a bit unusual, as a brush fire inside the city limits. It happened just across the Henley Street Bridge near Fort Dickerson.
Thursday afternoon firefighters raced up and down the ridge pulling hose. The fire eventually gobbled up 2-3 acres of land.
While most people in East Tennessee will tell you just how common brush fires are, a fire inside the city limits like this isn’t nearly as normal.
“A lot of these guys would rather have several structure fires than have to manage their equipment and head up and down the hill several times,” Knoxville Fire Department Captain Brent Seymour said.
With most of the area still feeling the dry effects of the drought, Seymour says both the city and county will be keeping an eye on backyard bonfires this spring and summer.
In the county, some fires are legal, but you need a permit.
Inside the city limits, you can have a cooking fire, but the majority of other outdoor fires are illegal.
“They’re enforcing that stringently, especially because of the drought situation,” Seymour said.
In the situation of the fire in South Knoxville, investigators believe a cooking fire at a homeless camp that spread out of control may be to blame.
“A day like today with a light breeze blowing, or a spring day like this, the fire gets out of control, and you wind up with what we have here,” Seymour said.
From up above, the Knox County Sheriff’s chopper barks out direction for crews fighting fire on the ground.
Thursday, it helped spot a suspect fleeing the scene on a bike just as crews arrived, but through the smoke, they were unable to catch up with him.
Seymour says the city does spot checks in an effort to keep homeless camps to a minimum, but it’s tough to keep up.
“You can come in today and clean up 3 or 4, but then next week they’re still in the same area, just moved to different locations,” he said.
He says you can call 311, and the city will have Knoxville Police come out and try to help the homeless and in some cases even get them to shelters to try to prevent future accidental fires like this from happening again.