TEMA declares State of Emergency in response to wildfires

The Tennessee Emergency Management Agency declared a Level 3 State of Emergency Thursday in response to the continued threat of drought and wildfires across the state. 

Level 5 is "normal operation," while Level 3 means the state is facing a "serious emergency." 

In the past month alone, 6,000 to 6,200 acres have burned due to wildfires in Bledsoe, Hamilton, Monroe and Sequatchie counties alone, TEMA said. There are currently 53 active fires in Tennessee impacting 9,680 acres. 

“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," TEMA Director Patrick Sheehan said in a statement. 

TEMA said 10 to 15 homes near the Flippers Bend fire in Hamilton County were evacuated Wednesday, and homes are also being threatened by a different wildfire in Hamilton County, as well as fires in Campbell and Sequatchie counties. 

"Relief from the drought and wildfire threat is not imminent as weather forecasts are not showing any significant precipitation in Tennessee through the remainder of 2016," Sheehan said. 

A Knoxville Mobilization Center has also been activated at the Hilton Knoxville Airport at McGhee Tyson Airport in Alcoa in response to active wildfires. Fire crews from across the country are using the mobilization center as a check-in and staging area as they respond to wildfires across the Southeast. 

(© 2016 WBIR)


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