Wild land fires are continuing to burn in our state, region and neighboring states and public concern is growing on this Election Day. To that end, I have been in coordination with the Tennessee Department of Forestry in Nashville. While all local fire departments and State Forestry crews have been on the fire line every day for the past week (+), Forestry Officials tell me they have been coordinating multiple firefights in East Tennessee, including Campbell County fires, from an Incident Command Post in Cumberland County. While unfortunately, at least one home has burned in Campbell County (Stony Fork area), fires in Cumberland County are threatening and damaging scores of homes and properties there.
Some Citizens have called asking if we can use aerial suppression systems to scoop from Norris Lake with helicopters or target slurry from fixed wing aircraft. State Officials tell me that National Guard and State Forestry helicopter water scoops have been deployed in the highest risk areas already and they are being considered for Campbell and other counties if and when fire conditions grow more dangerous. While fires have crowned into treetops and burned into stump depth in a few sites Campbell County, most fires across the county are burning dry leaves and tinder on the forest floor and leaves falling from trees. Fire crews have cut miles of dozer and hand line breaks around most fires and so the challenge now is keeping falling leaves from fueling jumps across the breaks.
Foresters tell me the Crossville incident center is splitting tomorrow to forward a team to Knoxville to concentrate on the North Cumberland region as weather forecasts still show rain unlikely until early next week. State nor local Fire Marshalls are granting burn permits and I ask that County Citizens and visitors refrain from burning at home, at campsites and picnic areas. Please remain vigilant for rapid changes in fire behavior that can threaten your life, property and health and report arson when you see it. Your County 911 service stands ready for your calls.
I encourage those with breathing challenges to relocate with family or friends in lower smoke areas if at all possible. I anticipate a State Forestry news release tomorrow once the Knoxville Fire Incident Command Post is established. Stay safe, pray for our Fire Fighters, First Responders and our neighbors affected by these fires. God Bless Our County and Our Country on this smoky Election Day.
Campbell County Mayor