CHATTANOOGA, Tennessee (WDEF)- Today is the first day of fall and it has been a long time since we have had any measurable rain in our viewing area.
The Tennessee State Forester started their burn permit program today.
We have had a very hot and dry end to our summer this year and most of our viewing area is is in a moderate drought right now.
The Tennessee Division of Forestry made the decision to make burn permits a requirement for any open air fire within five hundred feet of any forest, grassland or woodland.
Burn permits usually don’t go into affect until October 15th which is the start of fire season.
Robin Bible of the Tennessee Department of Agriculture, Forestry Division says,”We felt it would be best to go ahead and with the hot and dry weather continuing and leading into our fall fire season our state forester thought that it would be wise to open our burning permit program early.”
The Chattanooga Fire Department has been battling more brush fires than normal because of the dryness.
Right now, Hamilton County is under a burn ban which means you cannot burn anything unless it is a recreational fire.
Burn permits are required during the burn ban and are easy to obtain.
Chattanooga Fire Department Deputy Chief of Operations, Rick Boatwright says, “Those can be obtained at the Chattanooga Hamilton County Air pollution control Bureau. The directions are on it. Each individual should look and notify the Air pollution control Bureau if they are going to do burns and actually look at the website and it will tell you if it is a no burn day or not.”
Burn bans are not just in place for fire safety, but for our health.
If a flame burns too long the smoke will pollute our air.
Setting fires outside during a burn ban has serious consequences.
Boatwright also says, “Individuals that are caught burning during a no burn ban could face fines, charges or even jail time.”
It is important during this time to remember that if you see a brush fire or smoke, call 9-1-1 immediately.