Wildfires, drought conditions continue

Staff Reports • Updated Nov 15, 2016 at 7:45 AM

Hazy skies and the smell of smoke greeted Wilson County residents over the weekend as wildfires continue to blaze in East Tennessee and Kentucky. 

Dry conditions contributed to the wildfires, and as they continue to burn, the smoke is reaching parts of Middle Tennessee, including Wilson County. 

Residents will notice an odor of smoke and hazy skies during the impact. 

According to the Tennessee Emergency Management Association, there were 74 active fires impacting 13,224 acres on Sunday and Monday. 

A state of emergency remains in place due to ongoing drought conditions and wildfire threats. A Code Orange air quality alert has been issued for East and Middle Tennessee. 

A Level 3 state of emergency was issued Thursday evening and remains in place. The State of Emergency allows multi-jurisdictional engagement of local, state, and federal personnel and resources to be sure Tennessee is positioned to respond effectively and quickly to protect lives and property from what is emerging as a prolonged drought and wildfire threat in the state.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency also granted Tennessee two fire assistance grants to reimburse the state for costs associated with fighting the Smith Mountain wildfire in Sequatchie, Hamilton and Bledsoe County, and the Flippers Bend fire in Hamilton County.

Approximately 302 of Tennessee’s 480 water systems are experiencing some level of drought impact, ranging from moderate to exceptional. At least three counties have requested water for residents whose wells have run completely dry of water.

Emergency communications centers across Middle Tennessee received many calls about the smoke. There is no need to call 911 to report general odors of smoke outside, according to Wilson County Emergency Management Agency officials. 

A code orange air quality alert has been issued. This means the general public is not likely to be affected, but people who have heart or lung diseases, older adults, and children are at a greater risk of health threats due to wildfire smoke.

For more information on the physical effects of wildfire smoke, visit cdc.gov/features/wildfires.

Anyone who plans to conduct a controlled burn within the city limits of Lebanon or Mt. Juliet must contact that city’s fire department. Lebanon Fire Department may be reached at 615-443-2903, and the Fire Department of Mt. Juliet may be reached at 615-773-9830.

To burn outdoors in Wilson County, a burn permit must be issued from the Tennessee Division of Forestry. Burn permits will not be issued, therefore no outdoor burning is allowed in Wilson County.

For information on receiving a burn permit in Wilson County, visit docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLScXK8TVDrJJB3rf6b5-mjt8_z77xr1yhbWli7ZKhXUv6toxuQ/viewform, and to receive a permit from Tennessee Forestry, visit burnsafetn.org/burn_permit.html.

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