NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — In terms of climatology, October is the driest month in Middle Tennessee. With little rain in the forecast and abnormally dry conditions in place, the risk of fires may be heightened this year.
Tim Phelps, the Communications and Outreach Unit Leader for the Tennessee Division of Forestry, said that they are watching conditions closely.
“We’re entering our typical dry season of the year; October historically is our driest month out of the year. It’s also one of our more pronounced fire times of the year. We see a lot more wildfire, especially late October through November,” he said.
Burning yard debris is common in the fall, but it can be dangerous. Phelps said they will start issuing burn permits on October 15.
“It’s not a ban. Bans are carrying more significant weight and require a little bit more communication between county officials and our Commissioner of Agriculture. If it’s just not conducive to conducting a debris burn or we wouldn’t feel comfortable burning, then we won’t issue permits to citizens. So it’s our way of communicating when it’s safe to do so.”
Burn bans are issued by cities and local governments. If there’s a burn ban, no burn permits are issued in those areas. Currently, Brentwood has a burn ban in place until measurable rainfall occurs.
Red Flag Warnings are also used to alert the public about heightened fire risk.
“We work very closely with the National Weather Service when wind conditions align. Where you’ve got dry conditions, low relative humidities, abundant wind, sustained wind, and heavy gusts, that creates what we call red flag conditions. And we work very closely with our meteorologist, with the National Weather Service Meteorologist to declare those Red Flag Warnings,” says Phelps.
Burn permits will be available online at burnsafetn.org, or at (877) 350-BURN. When conditions allow, permits are available seven days a week from 8 a.m. until 11 p.m.