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Burn Restrictions Lifted For Most Of Upper Cumberland, More Rain Needed

/ The Upper Cumberland's News Leader
Burn Restrictions Lifted For Most Of Upper Cumberland, More Rain Needed

Burn permits are again being issued in the Upper Cumberland, with the exception of DeKalb County, after the rain of the last 24 hours.

Burn restrictions for most counties in the region were lifted Tuesday after after as much as 1.4 inches of rain fell in parts of the region. A burn ban was issued for DeKalb County last Thursday. Fire Logistics Specialist Kimberly Burch said it may take a little longer for DeKalb’s burn ban to be lifted.

“You have to go through the county mayor, the governor, the commissioner of agriculture to get stuff signed off to initiate a burn ban, because it has heavy fines that go with it,” Burch said. “Well it’s the same process to get a burn ban lifted, which is why a lot of time we just do burn permit restrictions because those are easy to turn on and turn off.”

Burch said the conditions before the rain were similar to those in 2016 that sparked the Gatlinburg wildfires. She said we are not out of the woods as more dry weather is in the forecast and concerns over a dry winter grow.

“The winter time can be hit and miss in regards to whether we’re going to have a really wet winter or we’re going to really dry winter,” Burch said. “When it’s an El Nino it’s a little drier than normal. Hopefully, we’ll get back into the swing of just our normal fire activity that we have. It’s been a little more fire activity than we’re used to.”

Burch said officials hope the weather pattern will bring rain over the next several weeks, but El Nino usually means an overall drier winter and summer. She said we need rain over a longer period.

“We prefer a good soaking rain,” Burch said. “In regards to, it doesn’t need to be heavy. We don’t want a rain that’s going to drop an inch of rain in 20 minutes. We’d rather prefer to have an inch of rain over the course of several hours, because it really gets into the soil and really gets into the leaves. It really helps them suck up that moisture a whole lot easier when it’s coming down at a slower pace than if it’s just a gully-washer it slides right off and goes into the creeks, and it’s not really putting a lot of moisture into the ground.”

The Upper Cumberland has been under burn restrictions since the start of the month. No burn permits were being issued during that time.

Burch said she is thankful for this rain even if the relief ends up being temporary. She said it gives firefighters across the region and state some much needed rest.

“The rain has really assisted getting our crews some much needed rest,” Burch said. “They’ve been running and gunning for the last week or so, chasing fires at all hours of the night. So this is a much needed respite for them to spend some time with their families this week.”


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