Tennessee has entered its dry season, meaning debris burning will require state permits starting Friday.
Tennessee Division of Forestry Spokesperson Tim Phelps said even with the year’s rainfall, the region is expected to stay dry through November. Phelps said burning requires tools, water nearby and even a second set of hands.
“If you need somebody to run and catch an ember while one ember goes one way, another ember goes another way,” Phelps said. “So have plenty of of support on hand and keep your piles manageable. Keep them at a size where you slowly add material to.”
Phelps said these permits expire the same day they are issued, fires need to be out by midnight of the burn. Phelps said if you live in an area requiring a state burn permit to either apply online at burnsafetn.org or residents without internet access can call 877-350-BURN on Monday through Friday.
State burn permits will be required until May 15 and the state reserves the right to decline a permit based on dry or windy conditions. Phelps said that people will know the when and where to burn, but need to know how to do it safely.
“Establish a clear line of vegetation-free zone, immediately around that pile,” Phelps said. “So basically digging it down or raking it down to bare mineral soil, bare mineral soil can’t burn. But certainly heated up grass can and what that does from a debris burn pile is allow it (fire) to move from that pile, potentially into the woods.”
Phelps said if burning is not a safe option for you or permits are halted, there are other options.
“Yard debris actually helps a lot of insects, lightning bugs to name one in particular,” Phelps said. ” Keeping a layer of leaf and litter debris actually helps many of our insect populations. Mulching, chipping material down and using it for compost, using it for mulching your flower beds.”
Phelps said that if good weather is predicted for the weekend, residents can try and call for a weekend burn permit ahead of time. He said to make sure and notify your neighbors and local fire department before burning since they will see the smoke.