Burning permits for outdoor burning of woody debris will be required again starting on Oct. 15 as Tennessee’s fall wildfire season begins in earnest. The permit season will not end until May 16, 2013. This wildfire season follows a record-breaking drought across the state during which crops withered in the fields and vegetation dried to tinderbox conditions causing some counties to request and initiate outdoor burning restrictions in a cooperative effort with the Tennessee Department of Agriculture.
“Although we’ve had some really good rains in recent weeks, we still want to keep in mind that it only takes a short period of time without rainfall, particularly in the fall, when we begin having problems with wildfires once again,” said Jim Dale, Assistant District Forester with the Division of Forestry. “This past summer, solely because of the drought conditions we experienced, we saw an increase in the number of wildfires caused by such things as equipment use, smoking, lightning, campfires, fireworks and other causes which are not traditionally as high in number as arson-caused and careless debris burning-caused wildfires,” he said. “Thirty-six percent of all the wildfires which have occurred this year have been as a result of these other causes, while 37 percent and 27 percent have been attributed to careless debris burning and arson respectively.” Through Sept. 27, some 787 wildland fires had burned some 6,634 acres across the state according to the Division of Forestry’s weekly fire report.
The permits issued by the Tennessee Department of Agriculture, Division of Forestry are for the sole purpose of burning untreated wood waste or woody vegetation grown on-site such as branches, leaves and brush. Permits for burning areas larger than 8 feet by 8 feet must be secured by telephone while permits for debris piles 8 feet by 8 feet and smaller can be secured either online at www.burnsafetn.org or by telephone. All permits are completely free of charge. Telephone permits may be secured from 8 a.m. until 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday. No household garbage, treated wood waste, tires, plastics, newspapers, cardboard or other such materials may be burned as it is illegal to do so in the state. Violation of the burning permit statute is a Class C misdemeanor punishable by up to 30 days in jail and/or a $50 fine plus court costs. The burning permit program administered by the Tennessee Department of Agriculture does not super-cede any existing burning permit programs administered by cities or communities which have their own outdoor burning statutes.
For more information on burning permits in Cumberland County, call 931-484-4548 or 931-788-5538.