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Wildfires Not Uncommon During Dry Falls Months

/ The Upper Cumberland's News Leader
Wildfires Not Uncommon During Dry Falls Months

Wildfires in the Upper Cumberland like the one last week in Warren County are not uncommon during the dry months of October and November.

Tennessee Department of Agriculture and Forestry PIO Tim Phelps said the department averages about 1,700 responses per year. That amounts to some 19,000 acres of wildfires across the state. He said across the region, the conditions that cause fires are the level of humidity, the level of wind, and the drought conditions.

“Not only is the fuel receptive to ignition, of a start, but with that wind, you get the potential for spread,” Phelps said. “And when you get a fire and it starts spreading erratically and the winds can shift, then it becomes much harder to control.”

Phelps said fires like the one in Warren County are exacerbated by steep, dry terrain facing the sun that dry out the leaves further. He said the one thing that is beneficial is that humidity increased to about 70 to 80 percent during the night, which helped get rid of the dryness.

Phelps said after a dry spell at the end of the summer and entering the dry fall season, the state has seen drier conditions than it has in the last five years. However, he said this is not out of the ordinary.

“Based on the US Drought Monitor, and that’s updated every Thursday, as of October 27th a good part of the Cumberland is in no drought or in that first stage of abnormally dry,” Phelps said. “We’re kind of entering into that.”

Phelps said that controlled burns help during dry, low-wind weather help to prevent wildfires. He said after the fires in Warren County, the department performed controlled burns to make sure all of the dry pockets had been taken care of to prevent re-ignition.


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