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Chilhowee Mountain Wildfire Contained

Monday, June 30, 2008 | 07:00pm

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. – The Tennessee Department of Agriculture Division of Forestry added crews over the weekend to assist firefighters in battling a wildfire on Chilhowee Mountain in Blount County.  The blaze is believed to have been started by lightening last Tuesday, and has been difficult to manage due to its remote location and steep terrain.

The additional crews, which came from forestry districts from across the state, resulted in a workforce of 50 division personnel working on the incident.  The extra resources helped to keep the wildfire within the dozer developed containment lines established last week according to state forestry officials.  Blount County Fire Department resources, including personnel to support fire line transport and to restock water equipment, have also been assisting with the wildfire.  No structures have been in jeopardy throughout the incident.

A breach of fire lines Friday night led to the extension of the containment area on Saturday.  The weather allowed crews to ignite backfires in an effort to reduce fuels within the contained area.  Rainfall overnight on Saturday and into Sunday morning was not enough to put the fire out, and further hindered firefighter efforts.  State forestry officials now report that the fire is contained within a 614 acre area.

“The rain’s been a mixed blessing” said district forester Ted Dailey.  “We desperately needed it due to the drought we’re in, and will take whatever we can get, but the little we received on the mountain limited our ability to attack the fire head-on.  It cooled off the fine fuels, but downed pine trees were still actively burning and we couldn’t get up the mountain with our heavy equipment until it dried out a little.  Safety continues to be our number one priority.”

Monitoring the containment line for new breaches and extinguishing burning fuels near the fireline will continue throughout the week until the fire is completely out. In the mean time, forestry officials expect to be able to begin reducing the number of firefighters on the fire brought in over the weekend to help battle the blaze.

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