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Tennessee Urges Citizens to Practice Wildfire Prevention

Tuesday, October 14, 2014 | 09:38am

NASHVILLE - The Tennessee Department of Agriculture Division of Forestry and the Department of Commerce and Insurance’s Division of Fire Prevention are reminding homeowners to follow simple safety practices to prevent wildfires. The official start of wildfire season in Tennessee is Oct. 15.

“Burning vegetative material that has accumulated around the yard or using fire to clear an old field can be an efficient way to get rid of debris,” State Forester Jere Jeter said. “It’s important for citizens to know when, where and how to conduct a debris burn. The division’s burn permit system focuses attention on safety. Getting a permit is free, and takes only two minutes using our online system.”

The online burn permit system is 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 www.burnsafetn.org for approval.  Of more than 300,000 burn permits issued last wildfire season, nearly 50,000 were issued online.

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. Phone numbers can be found by visiting www.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.

Wildfires are occasionally started by out of control house fires. The state Fire Marshal’s Office is warning citizens to also be aware of fire hazards in their home.

“For many years, Tennessee has occupied an undesirable ranking in the country for fire deaths. Falling asleep while smoking in bed or in a comfortable chair remains a significant cause of fire deaths in Tennessee,” says Department of Commerce and Insurance Commissioner and State Fire Marshal Julie Mix McPeak. “Always make sure your home’s smoke detectors are functioning properly.”

Burning without a permit is a Class C misdemeanor punishable by up to 30 days in jail and/or a fine not to exceed $50. Wildfires caused by arson are a class C felony punishable by 3 to 15 years in prison and up to $10,000 fines. Anyone with information about suspected arson activity should call the state Fire Marshal’s Arson Hotline toll-free at 1-800-762-3017.

Our website is your source for tips on burning safely, and how to protect your home and community.  For more information, visit www.burnsafetn.org

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