Above: Smoke from wildfires drifts into Tennessee, North Carolina, and northern Georgia, November 12, 2016. NASA, with notations by Wildfire Today.
As the siege of wildfires continues in the southeast United States the smoke from the blazes continues to impact residents in the area. As the wind direction changes from day to day different populations are affected. Most of the smoke Saturday was blowing to the west and southwest.
We did some quick mapping and found that on Saturday approximately 4.5 million residents were experiencing moderate to heavy smoke in northern Georgia, northern Alabama, eastern Tennessee, and western North Carolina. Almost the entire state of Alabama was affected by lesser concentrations.
Above: Satellite photo showing smoke from wildfires in North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Georgia, November 10, 2016.
Many wildfires are still burning in North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Tennessee, and several other states in the southeastern United States. On Thursday much of the smoke was being blown into the northern half of Georgia, potentially causing health problems for sensitive people.
The primary culprit for the wildfire activity is a lack of precipitation. Many areas in the southeast have not received any significant rain in weeks. It has been more than 70 days for some locations in Kentucky, Tennessee, North Carolina, Georgia, Mississippi, Alabama, and South Carolina. This has resulted in many wildfires breaking out in the last month.
The state with the most active fires is North Carolina, but the largest fire currently burning in the south is in Georgia, the 10,336-acre Rough Ridge Fire in the northern part of the state. Caused by lightning on October 16, it is being fought by 296 personnel, 9 hand crews, 2 helicopters, 7 engines, and 2 dozers.
While most areas in the western United States, with the exception of parts of Arizona, New Mexico, and Texas, wait for their fuels and weather to dry out, many firefighters in the east have been busy lately. The Intelligence section at the National Interagency Fire Center is too busy this time of the year to issue a daily Situation Report, so we assembled information about a number of fires east of the Mississippi River.
A prescribed fire conducted by the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency (TWRA) that got out of control in Blount County on Wednesday has burned 400 to 500 acres as of Thursday morning. TWRA officials said the wind picked up unexpectedly while they were treating a unit in the Foothills Wildlife Management area.
A fire in the Cherokee National Forest has burned 150 acres six miles north of Unicoi. Additional aircraft, dozers, engines, and firefighters have been ordered. (The tweet below is about this fire.)
Mike Martin’s brush pile he was burning behind his house Wednesday near Etowah escaped as winds blew flames onto his porch. He went to grab two five-gallon buckets of water, but by the time he returned it was too late. He tried to go into the house to retrieve his car keys, but the fire was too hot. Both the Ford SUV and the house were destroyed even though the fire department responded quickly from their station two miles away.
A fire in the Nature Conservancy’s Nags Head Woods Preserve blackened about 250 acres on the Outer Banks. It started on March 22 and spread for three days.
A wind-driven brush fire burned 86 acres in Port Republic Wednesday afternoon. With help from two water-dropping helicopters, about 30 firefighters stopped the spread.
A wildland firefighter with the Tennessee Division of Forestry became ill and died while preparing to respond to a vegetation fire in Tennessee. Jerry Campbell, 61, collapsed while getting ready to deploy to a wildfire in the Cherokee National Forest Friday night. He was transported to the Newport Medical/Tennova Healthcare Center where he was pronounced dead at 1:45 a.m. Saturday morning.
Our sincere condolences go out to Mr. Campbell’s family and coworkers.
Wildlife or wildfire?
Occasionally people who are not that familiar with wildland fire write or say “wildLIFE” when they mean “wildFIRE”. An article in Florida’s Cape Coral Daily Breeze reported that a boat from the “Fish & Wildfire Commission” responded to a boat fire three miles south of Sanibel Island in the Gulf of Mexico on March 3. But in a subsequent paragraph they referred to a craft from “Fish and Wildlife”.
John N. Maclean teaches course in Iowa
John N. Maclean will be teaching a week-long course in northwest Iowa in May about the history of wildland fire, from the Big Burn of 1910 to the Yarnell Hill Fire of 2013. The Iowa Lakeside Laboratory, a biological field station administered through the University of Iowa, will be offering the new course with a working title of “Causes and Consequences of Fatal Wildfires” offered by Mr. Maclean, author of “Fire on the Mountain” and three other books on wildfire. Scholarships for room and board are available. More information.
I admit that I had to look it up to find out where it was, but Stones River National Battlefield near Murfreesboro, Tennessee had a wildfire in the park on Wednesday. Apparently they suppressed it with the help of the local fire department without too much drama. The park has an active prescribed fire program, but this one was not planned.
Ashley McDonald, public information officer for Murfreesboro Fire and Rescue Department, said the fire burned about nine acres.