Gov. Haslam issues burning ban for 51 Tennessee counties

Assistant Chief Brent Masey, of the Highway 58 Fire Department in Harrison, Tenn., looks up as a helicopter carrying fire retardant flies over as Masey keeps watch on a wildfire Thursday, Nov. 10, 2016, in Soddy-Daisy, Tenn. Federal authorities say warmer-than-average temperatures and no rainfall are deepening a drought that's sparking forest fires across the Southeastern U.S. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey)

Wildfires ravage Southeast

NASHVILLE - Fires in Southeast Tennessee and elsewhere in the state have prompted Gov. Bill Haslam late Monday afternoon to declare a 51-county ban on burning effective until Dec. 15.

The ban includes Hamilton County where woods fires have cast a haze across the community.

Effective immediately, residents in 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. The counties under the ban are listed below.

According to Haslam's office, the Tennessee Department of Agriculture's Division of Forestry is fighting 67 wildfires across nearly 16,000 acres in the Cumberland and East Tennessee districts.

Violating the burn ban is punishable as a Class A misdemeanor which carries a fine of $2,500 and/or up to 11 months, 29 days in jail.

Robertson and Sumner counties continue to be under a burn ban issued by Agriculture Commissioner Jai Templeton.

Haslam's office notes that a declaration by the governor includes municipalities, whereas a commissioner's ban is superseded by municipal ordinances.

Residents in counties not included under any of the current bans must obtain a safe debris burning permit to burn brush, vegetation, household waste or construction waste.

But the Agriculture Department's Division of Forestry, however, does not expect to issue any permits until the state receives substantial precipitation, the governor's office said.

A violation of burning without a permit is punishable as a Class C misdemeanor which carries a fine of $50 and/or up to 30 days in jail.

Counties under burning ban

Counties under the regional burn ban proclamation are: 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 White