CAMPBELL COUNTY - As wildfire season kicks off, the Department of Agriculture warns this season’s record drought conditions require an extra level of caution.
"We haven't had dry conditions like this since about 2000 - that's the last time it was this dry," said Assistant District Forester Nathan Waters.
Waters is with the Department of Agriculture Division of Forestry. He says on a five-point scale, intense drought conditions brought Monday’s fire danger level to a four.
It comes as crews continue battling an active wildfire near Interstate 75 in Campbell County which started over the weekend near the Devil’s Racetrack hiking trail.
On Monday, officials said crews were working to maintain containment lines on the fire. So far the flames have burned more than 250 acres but are not threatening any homes or structures.
Charles Scott lives in Jacksboro, just miles away from the flames.
"From my home, all I can see is smoke billowing up from the air," Scott said.
“I’m not in imminent fear or danger of my house burning,” he continued, “but I don’t think anybody should be building campfires or burning brush, because there’s too much of a danger of a fire escaping and causing a wildfire like this.”
Wildfire season officially began Saturday. That means homeowners are now required to obtain a permit before burning.
"Ninety-nine percent of the fires on this side of the Mississippi are caused by human beings," Waters said. "We've been very fortunate because I think people realize it's dry, and they've been very cautious."
The Department of Agriculture is reminding homeowners to avoid burning on windy days, always keep a rake or shovel on hand and notify both neighbors and a local fire department ahead of time before burning anything.
"The most important thing is get a permit and stay with your fire until it's out," Waters said.
So far this year, nearly 800 wildfires have burned more than 17,000 acres in Tennessee.
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