Middle tennessee gets haze, smoke from region’s wildfires

Middle tennessee gets haze, smoke from region’s wildfires

14 November 2016

published by http://www.tennessean.com

USA —   Several large wildfires burning in the state and nearby on Sunday left Middle Tennessee in a haze.

Statewide, there were 74 active fires affecting more than 13,000 acres, according to a Sunday update from the Tennessee Department of Agriculture Division of Forestry.

“We did have a few fires in Middle Tennessee yesterday, over the last 24 hour period, but nothing too substantial,” said Tim Phelps, spokesman for the forestry division. “Most of the fires, if you’ve been keeping tabs, are in the Cumberland Plateau. I think what people are experiencing is some smoke moving up from that area. We do have some southerly winds today.”

Williamson County firefighters did respond Sunday to a brush fire that burned roughly 30-40 acres off Old Harding Road near Fairview, Williamson County EMA operation manager Tim Harvey said. One outside structure was destroyed but the fire was contained before it could cause damage to two nearby cabins.

The Division of Forestry is recommending that people avoid burning, including campfires and backyard grilling. Twelve counties have burn bans, Phelps said. Find a list of restrictions here (some counties and cities may have additional restrictions).

“Our resources are stretched very thin right now to respond,” Phelps said.

Phelps said the severity of fires burning across the Volunteer State is highly unusual, and attributable to drought conditions.

“It’s not unusual for us to have a fall fire season, this is typically when our fires occur,” he said. “But this year it’s so dry, the drought started in Chattanooga and it spread north in other directions.”

Mt. Juliet’s emergency communications center has been receiving multiple calls about the smoke in the Middle Tennessee region. Residents do not need to call 911 to report general odors of smoke outside, an announcement by police said Sunday.

Mt. Juliet has worked around five brush fires in the past week or so, nothing more than 2.5 acres according to Fire Department of Mt. Juliet Chief Jamie Luffman.

“There’s a distinct hazy look to the sky and a smoky smell in the air,” the National Weather Service in Nashville posted on Facebook. “Blame it on the drought and associated ongoing fires to our east and southeast.”

The elderly, children, and those with respiratory issues may be sensitive to the smoke and should take precautions.

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