Prescribed burn briefly out of control near Cherokee Valley Road outside Ringgold

Prescribed burn briefly out of control near Cherokee Valley Road outside Ringgold

November 15th, 2013 by Tim Omarzu in Local Regional News

A 56-acre prescribed burn near Ringgold, Ga., meant to clear underbrush on White Oak Mountain at Cherokee Valley Road got out of control Thursday, 11-14-2013, but the Georgia Forestry Commission expected extra units called in to fight the fire would have it hand.

Photo by Tim Omarzu/Times Free Press.

RINGGOLD, Ga. -A 56-acre prescribed fire set Thursday by the Georgia Forestry Commission to clear underbrush on White Oak Mountain off Cherokee Valley Road got out of control - but apparently just for a little while.

"If it did get out of control, they have it under control now," Catoosa County Fire Battalion Chief Steve Quinn said at 4:45 p.m.

Catoosa County Fire Chief Chuck Nichols Jr. learned the fire was under control by talking to forestry commission firefighters, Quinn said.

Additional state firefighting units were brought in to get the fire in hand, forestry commission spokeswoman Wendy Burnett said. A spotter plane was flying over the prescribed burn to assist firefighters on the ground.

"It looks like it has escaped control," Burnett said at about 4:30 p.m. Thursday. "We have quite a few units on the scene. So I would imagine they would have it under control fairly quickly."

Burnett couldn't immediately say Thursday afternoon how many acres caught on fire or whether the prescribed burn was set on public or private land.

Quinn said the forestry commission sets prescribed burns to reduce wildfire risk.

"They'll do it to keep undergrowth and underbrush down, so there's less chance of [a wildfire] getting out of control," he said.

Cherokee Valley Road was hard-hit by the massive tornadoes of April 27, 2011. Seven residents died when their houses collapsed, and flattened trees and other signs of damage remain.

Quinn didn't know if the prescribed burn was meant to clear tornado-downed trees. Catoosa County firefighters were not involved in either setting or fighting the prescribed fire.

Contact staff writer Tim Omarzu at tomarzu@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6651.