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Forest Fires Burn During Dry Spell

Photo by Lydia Berglar – Taken from Young Road off of Back Valley Road, this photo shows smoke from the Back Valley fire at 11:40 a.m. on Oct. 19.

By LYDIA BERGLAR
News Editor

Local firefighters and the Georgia Forestry Commission have been hard at work containing several forest fires in the area. Dry conditions and low relative humidity have created a high risk of fire.

A fire on the side of Sand Mountain between Back Valley Road and Highway 301 began on Wednesday, October 18 around 10 a.m., with Trenton-Dade Fire responding to the scene before Georgia Forestry Commission joined. The cause is still under investigation. No structures were in danger once it was contained.

The fire continues to burn in a controlled area, with bulldozer control lines containing it and officials monitoring to ensure it does not spread. Due to “1,000-hour fuels,” it will continue to burn, with Heath Morton, chief ranger with Georgia Forestry Commission, explaining, “We are still checking the fire everyday due to leaf fall, and there are still some heavy logs from tornado damage that will smoke until we get some rain.”

A fire in Walker County broke out on Lookout Mountain on the morning of Saturday, October 21 and was fully contained by the following day. Spanning an estimated 250 acres east of Highway 157 near Tower Road, the blaze took out a radio tower, affecting Chattanooga’s 102.7 WBDX (J103) station and 101.3 FM KWN (Discover Dade).

Photo by Lydia Berglar – Georgia Forestry fights the Back Valley fire on Oct. 19.

At press time, no reports had been received of damage to homes or businesses, but Discover Dade reported that several small structures and utility sheds were at risk.

On Monday, October 23, teams were reinforcing containment lines. From the scene of the fire, Morton reported, “It is 100 percent controlled. However, Walker and Dade rangers and others from the area are still actively working on this fire doing mop up and some control burns to get the fire down to our fire breaks.”

The National Integrated Drought Information System (www.drought.gov) lists this September as Dade County’s seventh driest on record from the last 129 years. According to the database, the entire county is in “D2 – Severe Drought” (on a scale of D0 to D4, with D4 being the most severe).

Citizens are urged to be cautious, keeping hoses near all fires, campfires, and burn piles. There is currently no burn ban in Georgia, but Tennessee and Alabama both have fire alerts/burn restrictions in place.

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