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November 28, 2016

TEMA Update on Drought & Wildfires, 11-28-16, 11 a.m., Central


HIGHLIGHTS

• Heavy rain already this morning in West Tennessee. Middle Tennessee can expect rain this afternoon and the cold front, along with the precipitation, will continue eastward.

• While this rainfall won’t break the drought, it will go a long way to mitigating fire dangers. Look for rainfall totals of 2 to 3 inches across Middle Tennessee with some higher totals for southern and eastern counties.

• Check drought conditions for your zip code: https://www.drought.gov/drought/drought-my-backyard.

• Wildfire information at: www.BurnSafeTN.org.


CURRENT SITUATION


As of 7 p.m., Central, Sunday night, the Division of Forestry responded to 8 new fires impacting 113.5 acres. There are currently 40 active fires in Tennessee impacting 15,566 acres, There are 10 major wildland fires in Tennessee ranging from 90% to 100% contained.


TEMA and the Division of Forestry have worked with Federal Emergency Management Agency to receive three Fire Management Assistance Grants (FMAG) for Tennessee: one to support the Smith Mountain wildfire complex that includes the Smith Mountain, Mowbray and Bench Bluff fires, one FMAG to support the Flippers Bend fire in Hamilton County, and the third FMAG is supporting the East Miller Cove Fire. FMAG is specific to the fire, not county.


Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam issued Executive Order #59 on Nov. 22, 2016, suspending rules related to vehicles transporting hay, permitting them to carry loads in excess of limits on height, width, and length. Details at: http://share.tn.gov/sos/pub/execorders/exec-orders-haslam59.pdf.


Gov. Haslam issued a proclamation on Nov. 14, 2016, declaring a regional ban on burning in 51 counties in response to the ongoing drought and destructive wildfires throughout Middle and East Tennessee.


Residents in these areas of Tennessee where the smoky haze and smell is present do not need call 9-1-1 unless they see smoke actually rising from the ground.


The Tennessee Emergency Management Agency (TEMA) activated the Tennessee Emergency Management Plan and set in place a Level 3 – State of Emergency, effective at 7 p.m., Central, on Thursday, Nov. 10, 2016. The State of Emergency will remain in place until conditions merit a return to normal, daily operations.


The State of Emergency allows multi-jurisdictional engagement of local, state, and federal personnel and resources to be sure Tennessee is positioned to respond effectively and quickly to protect lives and property from what is emerging as a prolonged drought and wildfire threat in the state.


WILDFIRES


Active Fires (fought in the last 24 hours)

NUMBER OF FIRES: 40 | ACRES BURNED: 15.566


Year to Date
TOTAL NUMBER OF FIRES: 1,381 | TOTAL ACRES BURNED: 43,457


Major Fires

• Ivydale/Trail #2 (Campbell) 100 acres, 100% contained
• East Miller Cove (Blount) 1,500 acres, 90% contained [FMAG]
• Little Brushy (Morgan) 392 acres, 100% contained
• Stoney Fork (Campbell) 1,129 acres, 100% contained
• Beech Grove Rd (Anderson) 360 acres, 100% contained
• Bald Knob Rd. (Morgan) 1,254 acres, 100% contained
• Old Mountain Rd. (Grainger) 230, 100% contained
• Flippers Bend (Hamilton) 981 acres, 100% contained [FMAG]
• Poe Rd. (Hamilton) 712 acres, 100% contained
• Mowbray (Hamilton) 899 acres, 98% contained [FMAG, part of Smith Mtn. fire complex, which also includes Bench Bluff fire]


Air Quality
The Air Quality Index for Tennessee today shows a persistent area today of Unhealthy (Red) to Unhealthy for Special Groups (Orange) air quality for Knoxville and its surrounding counties today.


More air quality information is at: https://airnow.gov/index.cfm?action=airnow.local_state&stateid=44. Select “AQI Loop” to see how the air quality forecast will change over time.


Burn Bans
Gov. Haslam’s regional burn ban covers the following 51 counties: Anderson, Bledsoe, Blount, Bradley, Campbell, Cannon, Carter, Claiborne, Clay, Cocke, Coffee, Cumberland, Dekalb, Fentress, Franklin, Grainger, Greene, Grundy, Hamblen, Hamilton, Hancock, Hawkins, Jackson, Jefferson, Johnson, Knox, Loudon, Macon, Marion, McMinn, Meigs, Monroe, Morgan, Overton, Pickett, Polk, Putnam, Rhea, Roane, Scott, Sequatchie, Sevier, Smith, Sullivan, Trousdale, Unicoi, Union, Van Buren, Warren, Washington, and White.


More details at: http://www.tn.gov/news/46739


Effective immediately, residents in the counties covered by the regional ban are not permitted to conduct any open-air burning. The ban includes campfires, and burning of brush, vegetation, household waste or construction debris. The ban will remain in effect until December 15.


Additionally, Marshall, Robertson, Sumner and Wilson counties in Middle Tennessee are under an Agriculture Commissioner ban on burning.


The Governor’s regional burn ban applies to open-air burning near woodlands and includes a prohibition of campfires, and burning of brush, vegetation, and construction debris. Generally, the burn ban does NOT apply to cooking grills and other similar lighted devices that are well established in a confined, protected area away from woodlands. However, as a precaution, the disposal of hot grill ashes can be a fire hazard. Grill ashes should be allowed to completely cool or wetted before disposal in all cases. The burning of household waste is never allowed under state air quality laws. More information is available at: https://tn.gov/environment/article/apc-open-burning.


DROUGHT


All of Tennessee’s 95 counties are experiencing Severe drought conditions or higher, with 18 counties in Exceptional drought status and 52 counties in Extreme drought, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor.


Approximately 442 of Tennessee’s 480 water systems are within areas experiencing some level of drought impact, ranging from severe to exceptional.


Details at: http://droughtmonitor.unl.edu/Home/StateDroughtMonitor.aspx?TN.


Drought Resources

• County Ag extension agents are primary source of assistance for farmers.

• Hay availability website: http://picktnproducts.org

• The Farm Services Agency (FSA) has several of USDA’s disaster relief programs: http://www.fsa.usda.gov/programs-and-services/disaster-assistance-program/index

• Agriculture Drought Information: https://extension.tennessee.edu/Pages/ANR-CED-Drought.aspx

• FSA has the Livestock Forage Program and Emergency Loans available to producers due to drought. In Tennessee if more information is needed about the Livestock Forage Program Ron Eldridge can be contacted at ron.eldridge@tn.usda.gov or 615-277-2620. For Emergency Loans contact James Welborn at James.welborn@tn.usda.gov or 615-277-2627.

• TDEC’s Division of Water Resources webpage for listing of water systems in varying stages of drought response: http://tn.gov/environment/topic/wr-drought-planning


RESPONSE ACTIVITIES


Wildland firefighters from 10 states, including Alaska, Florida, Idaho, Oklahoma, Oregon, Montana, Nevada, Texas, Utah, and Washington are supporting Tennessee’s efforts to contain, control, and mitigate the wildfire threat. Another 20 State and Federal agencies are engaged in either fighting the wildfires directly or in coordinating the efforts and resources for those who are.


Since Sun., Nov. 6, the Tennessee Army National Guard (TNARG) has conducted more than 1,000 water air drop missions in support of wildfire fighting efforts in east Tennessee.


The State Emergency Operations Center (SEOC) in Nashville is staffed and TEMA coordination is ongoing through the SEOC with state and local partners involved in the wildfire response and drought monitoring. These partners include: the Tennessee departments of Agriculture and its Division of Forestry; Commerce and Insurance and the State Fire Marshal, Correction, Environment and Conservation, Health, Human Services, Military, and Transportation, and Tennessee State Parks, Tennessee Highway Patrol, Tennessee Voluntary Organizations Active in Disasters, and Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency.


WEATHER FORECAST


East TN – Increasing cloudiness and strong southerly winds on Monday ahead of a cold front which will bring the possibility of storms. Much needed rainfall is expected on Monday with additional rainfall possible through Wednesday.


Middle TN – Rains area-wide on Monday and Wednesday.


West TN – Significant rain accumulations expected over the next few days. Strong, sustained winds with gusts up to 20 m.p.h. area forecast.


KEY MESSAGE


The Tennessee Arson Hotline is 1-800-762-3017 and is answered 24 hours a day. Report arson activity also to the Tennessee Department of Agriculture’s Crime Unit at 1-844-AGCRIME (1-844-242-7463). Callers may remain anonymous.


About the Tennessee Emergency Management Agency: TEMA’s mission is to coordinate preparedness, response and recovery from man-made, natural and technological hazards in a professional and efficient manner in concert with our stakeholders. Follow TEMA on Facebook, TNDisasterInfo, on Twitter, @T_E_M_A, and at www.tnema.org.