Today marks official start of fire season

Friday, October 15, 2010

Today, Oct. 15, marks the official start of fire season in Tennessee. Burning permits are required between Oct. 15 and May 15.

For a burn permit in Marshall County, call 270-2244 between 8 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. Permits are free, and may be obtained in advance for weekends and holidays. David Warren and Richard Williams are the local forestry representatives.

Burning without a permit is a Class C misdemeanor punishable by up to 30 days in jail and/or a fine up to $50.

Activities requiring a burning permit include outdoor burning of brush and leaves or untreated wood waste, and burning to clear land. Escaped debris burns are the leading cause of wildfires. Causing a wildfire by arson is a Class C felony, punishable by three to 15 years in prison and up to $10,000 fines.

According to the U.S. Drought Monitor, conditions in Marshall County are "abnormally dry." Some West Tennessee counties started requiring burn permits on Oct. 4, due to being in a state of moderate to severe drought.

"The public is a very important partner in helping us reduce the impact of wildland fire by respecting state and local restrictions, using common sense when conducting debris burning, and by reporting suspicious activity that may be related to arson," said state forester Steve Scott. "It's also very important for the homeowner to recognize that they carry the first line of responsibility for the protection of their home before a fire threatens it."

Last year six homes across the state were lost and 579 were threatened due to wildland fire.

Homeowners living in forested communities can take steps to protect themselves and their property. Keeping gutters and rooftops free of debris, maintaining at least two to five feet of non-flammable material next to the foundation of the home, and clearing away flammable brush for at least 30 feet around the house are just a few simple examples of what homeowners can do.

For more information, visit Anyone with information about suspected arson activity should call the state Fire Marshal's Arson Hotline toll-free at 1-800-762-3017.