By Hartsville Vidette Staff Reporter

The Tennessee Department of Agriculture Division of Forestry is observing National Fire Prevention Week by reminding citizens to follow simple safety practices to prevent wildfires.

National Fire Prevention Week began Oct. 9. The official start of wildfire season in Tennessee is Oct. 15.

“It’s important, and required from Oct. 15, 2016 to May 15, 2017, that citizens call for a burning permit and follow outdoor burning safety recommendations,” State Forester Jere Jeter said. “Throughout October and into November, the state is forecasted to experience above normal temperatures and below normal precipitation creating an expansion of drought now seen in southeast Tennessee. The permit system helps us communicate to the public when and where it is safe to burn and focuses attention on safety.”

File photo Uncontrolled brush fires can easily turn into wildfires.

File photo
Uncontrolled brush fires can easily turn into wildfires.

The online burn permit system is free, fast and simple. If you are burning a leaf or brush pile that is smaller than 8 feet by 8 feet in size, log on to burnsafetn.org for approval. More than 300,000 permits are issued each year, and the online system provides a quick and efficient way to apply.

For a larger burn, apply for a free permit by calling your local Division of Forestry burn permit phone number Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. In Trousdale County, call 615-374-3601. Other counties’ phone numbers can be found by visiting burnsafetn.org.

Burn permits are only issued when conditions are conducive to safe burning. If you live inside city limits, there may be additional restrictions. Check with your municipality before you burn.

To learn what materials may not be burned, check the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation’s Open Burning Guidelines at tn.gov/environment/article/apc-open-burning.

Burning without a permit is a Class C misdemeanor punishable by up to 30 days in jail and/or a fine. Wildfires caused by arson are a class C felony punishable by 3 to 15 years in prison and up to $10,000 in fines.

Anyone with information about suspected arson activity should call the state Fire Marshal’s Arson Hotline at 1-800-762-3017. The hotline is answered 24 hours a day, and you may remain anonymous when providing information. Cash awards are offered for information leading to an arrest or conviction. To report illegal burning, please call 1-888-891-TDEC.