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Tennessee Division of Forestry and other personnel battled a wildfire burning atop Signal Mountain in October.

Despite Monday's showers, officials say the ground in the tristate area is ripe for wildfire as dry conditions this spring pick up where they left off in the winter.

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Johnny Stephens, with Rossville Fire Department, battles a brush fire off of South Mission Ridge Drive in Rossville, Ga., Friday, Feb. 17, 2017.
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Anthony Jones, a ranger with The Cumberland Trail, monitors a fire line while battling a wildfire burning atop Signal Mountain in October.

A forest fire broke out sometime Friday on Ladd Mountain in Marion County, Tenn., near the Haletown community on Nickajack Lake, but no homes or other structures were damaged, Marion County Emergency Management Agency director Steve Lamb said early Monday. Lamb said state officials spotted, reported and fought the blaze.

The fire is thought to have been started by campers, Tennessee Department of Agriculture spokeswoman Corrine Gould said Monday.

"The Ladd's Mountain fire is now fully contained at 120 acres," Gould said via email. "A preliminary investigation indicates that it began as a result of a campfire."

She said firefighters with the Tennessee Department of Agriculture Division of Forestry responded on Friday and worked on containment and control throughout the weekend.

"As of [Sunday], there were still approximately 50 acres of unburned fuel on the interior of the control line," Gould said. "As that fuel burns, it will most likely be visible from Interstate 24, especially after dark."

Division of Forestry firefighters will continue to monitor the situation until the fire is out, she said.

Lamb said there were another couple of brush fires over in the South Pittsburg area that probably were started by homeowners clearing brush and leaves.

Lamb wasn't hopeful that predicted rains would be enough to eliminate fire danger, but said the wet weather could forestall problems a while.

According to last week's drought monitor, most of the region, particularly south of Chattanooga, is already experiencing abnormally dry conditions at best and extreme drought conditions at worst in Georgia in Gordon, Gilmer and Pickens counties, and areas to the east in the Blue Ridge mountains.

Marion County is shown in the abnormally dry category, along with Northeast Alabama. The monitor shows similarly dry conditions in Tennessee east and west of the Cumberland Plateau, including Marion, Sequatchie, Hamilton, Bradley, Polk, McMinn, Meigs and Rhea counties in Southeast Tennessee.

Contact staff writer Ben Benton at bbenton@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6569.

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