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State forester urges citizens to practice safe debris burning

Staff Reports • Oct 10, 2018 at 7:21 PM

NASHVILLE – The Tennessee Department of Agriculture Division of Forestry will observe National Fire Prevention Week through Saturday with a reminder to citizens to follow simple safety practices to prevent wildfires.

The official start of wildfire season in Tennessee is Monday.

“With the recent and forecasted rain, we expect favorable conditions for safe debris burning over the next couple of months,” said state forester David Arnold. “However, we shouldn’t let our guard down. We encourage Tennesseans to remain vigilant and practice safe debris burning to prevent wildfires.”

Getting a burn permit is free, fast and simple. For anyone who plans to burn a leaf or brush pile that is smaller than 8-by-8 feet in size, the online system provides a quick and efficient way to apply. For a larger burn, call the local Division of Forestry burn permit phone number Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. until 4:30 p.m. The online system and burn permit phone numbers can be found at burnsafetn.org. In Wilson County, the burn permit number is 877-350-2876.

More than 300,000 permits are issued each year, and they are only issued when conditions are conducive to safe burning. Anyone who lives inside city limits, there may be additional restrictions. Check with a municipality before burning.

For a list of materials that may not be burned, check the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation's open burning guidelines at tn.gov/environment/program-areas/apc-air-pollution-control-home/apc/open-burning.html.

 Burning without a permit is a Class C misdemeanor punishable by up to 30 days in jail and/or a fine. Wildfires caused by arson are a class C felony punishable by three to 15 years in prison and up to $10,000 in fines. Anyone with information about suspected arson activity should call the state fire marshal’s arson hotline at 800-762-3017. The hotline is answered 24 hours a day, and callers may remain anonymous when providing information. Cash awards are offered for information that leads to an arrest or conviction. To report illegal burning, call 888-891-TDEC.

Visit burnsafetn.org for additional tips to burn safely and to protect the community.

The Division of Forestry promotes the wise use of forest resources to assist landowners, fight wildfires, provide quality seedlings, monitor insects and diseases, improve urban forests, manage state forests, protect water quality, and collect forest inventory data. The division also works to promote primary and secondary forest industries to stimulate the state’s economy. Visit tn.gov/agriculture/forests for more information.

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