The Cumberland District’s Assistant District Forester said we have received enough rain in the last two weeks to tamper down hazardous fire conditions.
Forester Joel Blackburn said Cookeville only received 2.12 inches of rain for the entire month of November, most of which came at the end of the month. Just a few days into December, Cookeville already has seen .78 inches of rain. Blackburn said the forecast also looks promising to keep hazardous fire conditions down.
“If we trust long term weather, it looks like we’re going to have kind of a typical winter weather pattern set in where we’ll have five to seven days of dry followed by rainfall,” Blackburn said. “A lot of cold fronts coming in that should bring rainfall with them. So, it looks like we are out of the woods as far as the highest fire danger.”
Blackburn said the area has received enough rain that the soil is maintaining moisture, so even if we have a few days of dry conditions, there is enough moisture to keep the fire hazard down.
“It’s moderated our fire occurrence,” Blackburn said. “We’re not picking up many initial attacks right now. So the rain fall, the wet fuels, the wet leaves layer have helped.”
Blackburn said despite there being no burn restrictions currently, burn permits are still required for all open air burning until May 15. He said this is because daily weather conditions can also decide whether it is safe to burn or not.
“Permits are issued because we look at the weather daily,” Blackburn said. “You’d be surprised at how many people don’t watch local news or stay informed of their weather. So, it’s really a decision based on weather. It’s not trying to take the decision away from a landowner.”
Burn permits were not being issued in the Upper Cumberland for the entire month of November due to the drought causing hazardous fire conditions. DeKalb County got put under a burn ban by the state during this time. Blackburn said he believes those conditions are behind us for now.
“I just appreciate the patience from the public, as we got through a difficult time with the fire,” Blackburn said. “I appreciate all the understanding, and the phone calls we got from the public reporting fires. The quick reporting and the quick response, we were able to keep a lot of those fires small and manageable. Thank you to the public for being our eyes and hears.”