Several counties fight brush fires fueled by dry conditions

(WBIR) Dry conditions and high winds created a hectic weekend for firefighters in East Tennessee, and they say it could be a busy few months.

A wildfire east of Dollywood near Walker Trail in Pigeon Forge burned about 60 acres on Sunday.

Three rental cabins also received minor damage.

Nathan Waters, assistant district forester for the Tennessee Division of Forestry, said the brush fire was likely caused by power lines. Waters surveyed the damage on Monday morning and checked on hot spots. If the wind picks back up, the fire can reignite.

"Traditionally, we do have more fires as we go into April and May," Waters said. "Right now with no leaves on the trees, the wind can hit the ground. It dries everything out."

Tennessee typically has two fire seasons, Oct. 15 - Dec. 15 and Feb. 15 - May 15.

On Sunday, Pigeon Forge Fire Chief Tony Watson spoke about how unusual a fire of this size is for January.

"Being this early in the season and if we don't get some rain, man I hate to see what's going to come in April," Chief Watson said.

But they were not the only ones battling brush fires. Blount County Fire Protection District (BCFD) responded to five brush fires on Sunday.

"If the year continues to be dry and windy, yeah we're going to see a lot more fires," BCFD Fire Chief Dough McClanahan said.

Chief Dough McClanahan demonstrated for 10News how fast a brush fire can spread through dead vegetation. It took less than a minute for the fire to gain momentum.

"Another thing we see if they take ashes out of their fireplace and throw them out in the field. Ashes out of a fireplace can hold heat for several days," Chief McClanahan said.

Waters encouraged people to be mindful of dead vegetation near their home. Homeowners can make sure their homes are protected by going to

"We're the ones that cause the fires, over 90%," Waters said.

Chief McClanahn said at least one of the fires in Blount County from Sunday started because of residents illegally burning garbage.

Tennesseans planning on burning untreated wood need to apply for a permit.

The wildfire in Pigeon Forge is still 100% contained.


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